Indigenous goats are one of the most important sources of animal protein to many rural poor, but this is being threatened by the way they are managed and the way people utilize the land. Goats supply the rural people with meat, milk, manure (which can be used as fertilizers) and hides which can also be used for different purposes. Milk and meat have always been an important component in the normal balanced diet, providing energy, protein, calcium and other minerals and vitamins. As the population in South Africa continue to grow, meat and milk will become more important as a source of high quality protein to reduce malnutrition especially in children. As such milk and meat production is a vital form of primary health care in both rural and peri-urban areas. Donkin (1998) indicated that, in commercial enterprises, milk is usually from cows. However, the disadvantages with cows as a source of milk for the household and small holder farmer are that dairy cows are expensive, require large amounts of food, produce large amounts of milk (more than household needs), have a relatively long generation interval and when slaughtered have large carcases (posing problems of storage and distribution). In contrast, dairy and meat goats are less expensive, are easily handled by women and children, eat less, produce appropriate quantities of meat and milk for household consumption, reducing storage problems, have a short generation interval and produce more progeny. In spite of all these advantages, Bembridge and Tapson (1993) indicated that productivity from goats in the communal farming system, which is based on the extensive system is poor due to a low weaning rate, a high mortality rate and low turnover. Goats are often blamed for veld deterioration and damage to soil subsequent to poor animal and grazing management. Goats are hardy animals, that can survive where other animals cannot (Webb et al., 1998). One of the major problems at present however, is the availability of adequate grazing and the current land tenure systems. Goat farmers share common grazing land, which makes it very difficult to manage since the chief of the area holds the land in trust. This is one of the reasons why rural land is poorly managed. Our concern as researchers is how we can help rural people to sustain the productivity of these animals. This research is focused on the fact that" some 30% of the population of South Africa are classified as ultra-poor (i.e. those who do not obtain sufficient food) and of these, 80% are blacks living in rural areas, it is understandable that the efficiency of animal production in rural communal farming systems has been perceived by some as the most important issue for animal production research". The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of land tenure system on goat production in two rural villages, Moutse and Phooko. The analysis is based on 1998 / 1999 survey data. Surveys of landless and smallholder farmers were conducted in the KwaNdebele district of Mpumalanga in 1998 and 1999. In total 26 farmers were interviewed. The interview was through a questionnaire which was distributed to participating farmers with the help of an extension officer from the villages. The effect of land tenure on goat production was analysed by determining the productive efficiency of livestock in the villages, and the contribution of livestock to the livelihood of the local people. Finally farmers were classified according to categorical characteristics such as type of animal farmed with, those practicing minor management versus those who do not, and the type of farming system practiced e.g. animal or mixed farming. The results show that all the categories mentioned i.e. type of management, type of farming and land tenure system influence animal performance to some extent. It is concluded from the results that to successful farmers, land tenure seems to be a major limiting factor. The characterization of farmers that are economically successful in terms of goat I animal husbandry shows that they have little or no land and no regular substantial off farm income. Therefore, they rely mainly on goat I animal husbandry to provide a constant income, which emphasize the importance of livestock in rural farming systems. Although goats are less popular compared to cattle (often used for lobola), they form an important part of most rural farming systems, particularly in providing meat and milk for rural people. The results of the survey show that from the 26 farmers interviewed, 13 are farming with goats and cattle, and the remaining 13 with a combination of goats, cattle, sheep and sometimes pigs. KwaNdebele, like other former homelands has an agricultural potential which is largely underestimated because of lack of skills and training, absence of ownership, overstocking and lack of veld management. From the result, it is concluded that it is difficult to enforce proper management and conservation measures under communal land. Although the results suggests only a slight effect on land tenure on animal performance, land tenure does have an effect on the implementation of conservation measures. In economic terms, the cultivator I farmer is said to lack incentives to carefully husband the holding he does not have property rights that internalise the costs and benefits of conserving or failing to conserve the land (Basset and Crummey, 1993).
Dissertation (M Inst Agrar ( Animal Production))--University of Pretoria, 2007.