This paper evaluates the socio-economic characteristics of small-holder cattle producers in the North West Province and investigates the relationship between these characteristics with cattle off-take. A questionnaire aimed at capturing cross-sectional data on factors affecting cattle off-take for 2011 breeding season was administered through face-to-face interviews of 308 respondents.
Respondents were predominantly middle and old age males. Households headed by seniors (>65 years) tended to be larger than others. The majority (58%) of household heads regarded farming as their form of self-employment while only 15% had temporary or permanent employment outside agriculture. Most (82%) households relied on income from cattle followed by other livestock (55%) and social grants (47%). Female headed household relied on small businesses, which correlated positively with the sale of cattle and sheep. Households which depend on employment had less number of persons attending tertiary education and sold more cows. As expected, farmers sold more male animals (62.8%) than females mainly through auction sales. Unlike previous studies, our study shows that income from outside agriculture supplements cattle off-take. Households owning herds smaller than 11 head had higher overall herd off-take, as well as off-take for females than steers. Affiliation to and official position in community associations suppressed the cow sales but induce steer off-take. We conclude that financial burdens in households with smaller herds compel those households to sell potential breeding stock. We recommend the development of an animal recording system and that future interventions focus on the strengthening of women and community associations.