The role of plants in the treatment of disease and enhancement of production in animals in South African rural communities is poorly documented. Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) methods were employed to describe the use of ethnoveterinary medicinal plants in cattle by Setswana-speaking people in the Madikwe area of the North West Province of South Africa. Information was gathered from key spokespersons through individual interviews, group interviews, guided field walks and observations. Ethnoveterinary uses in cattle of 46 plant species representing 24 families were recorded. Plants were used in 84 % of the total number of ethnoveterinary remedies. These plants were used alone (64 %) or in mixtures (36 %) for 43 indications. The most important indications for the use of ethnoveterinary remedies were retained placenta, diarrhoea, gallsickness, fractures, eye inflammation, general ailments, fertility enhancement, general gastrointestinal problems, heartwater, internal parasites, coughing, redwater and the reduction of tick burdens. Plant materials were prepared in various ways including, infusion (36 %), decoction (33 %), infusion or decoction (13 %), ground fresh material (6 %), sap expressed from fresh material (3 %), charred (2 %) and dried (1 %). Unprocessed, fresh material was used in 6 % of remedies. The most common dosage form was a liquid for oral dosing (83 %). Other dosage forms included, drops, licks, ointments, lotions and powders. Liquid remedies for oral dosing were administered using a bottle. The study indicated that Setswana-speaking people in the North West Province have a rich heritage of ethnoveterinary knowledge, which includes all aspects of ethnoveterinary medicinal plant use. The impact of ethnoveterinary medicinal plant use on medicinal plant population densities was also assessed through a comparison of the medicinal plant densities inside and outside the Madikwe Game Reserve. Belt transects were used in a stratified trial design to record plant densities. No statistically significant differences in medicinal plant densities that could be attributed to medicinal plant use, were found.