The complicated nature of beef cattle farming necessitated the development of an effective computerised cattle management system (cattle farm planning system). This system was developed and programmed to be a planning and optimising model for maximum profit for the farmer. Farming systems in South Africa differ markedly, and the emerging farmers as well as small-farming communities depend either entirely or partly on agricultural activities for their survival and income generation. The design was mainly focussed on the new group of emerging farmers as well as small-farming communities. Improving the productivity of agriculture has exercised the ingenuity of politicians, planners, researchers, and extension or development agency staff over the last 30 to 40 years (Norman, 1993). For this study the focus was mainly on medium framed cattle (utilised mainly by the emerging farmers). A mathematical model was developed with the use of data from previous researchers, on growth, fertility, mating and calving percentages and data on the dressing percentages, average producer prices as well as other expenses. Growth curves for animals with three different condition score’s was used in conjunction with the expected meat prices and dressing percentages to calculate expected market prices on the hoof. Sales and marketing costs could be viewed on screen in order to show the farmer his profit margin. Using the information in the tables the system also determined the running costs for all cattle on the specific farm. The output of the program worked as follow. First, the marketing strategy was displayed. For each season the number of cattle recommended for sale was graphically displayed, together with the corresponding gross and net income. The user could also select the marketing strategy for a cattle group for the coming two years in each of eight seasons. The herd composition can also be displayed with financial information. The system was developed in order to give the farmer valuable information to help with the management of the farm.
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2009.