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Rising pains of a younger North West ostrich farmer

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Kabelo Lekalakala is the proprietor of Pitso Ostrich Farm in Mamogalieskraal on the outskirts of Brits, North West. Photograph: Siyanda Sishuba

Kabelo Lekalakala runs the Pitso Ostrich Farm (pitso means ‘the calling’ in Setswana) in Mamogalieskraal outdoors Brits. An element-time farmer, he’s additionally employed as a enterprise adviser.

Lekalakala grew up in Bapong Village, within the Bojanala District Municipality in North West, an space he describes as being wealthy in mining, tourism and agriculture. He at all times wished to be a farmer and was impressed by the farms he handed on his solution to Sonop close to Brits.

After matriculating, he efficiently accomplished a BTech Enterprise Administration in 2013.

In August 2017, he relocated to Oudtshoorn within the Western Cape, the place he joined his present employer (he prefers this to stay confidential), working with ostrich farming entrepreneurs.

It was right here that he was uncovered to the ostrich worth chain, from breeding and rising to slaughtering, leather-based tanning, and making feather and eggshell decorations.

As he developed a broad understanding of the enterprise, he started researching ostrich farming.

“By means of talking to those entrepreneurs within the worth chain, I turned conscious of the limitations to entry, together with a scarcity of entry to finance and to sustainable and rising markets. Urge for food for transformation can also be nonetheless missing,” he says.

Beginning a enterprise
In January 2018, Lekalakala took the plunge and launched his personal farming operation in North West.

Whereas recognising that that is now not an ostrich farming area, he realised it had the potential to be revived after coming throughout the report, ‘A profile of the South African ostrich market worth chain in 2017’, compiled by the Division of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Improvement (division of agriculture).

The research said that whereas 30 ostrich farms have been registered in North West, none was operational.

“I investigated why this was the case, and found that as the primary manufacturing areas are within the Southern Cape, a scarcity of technical assist was a deterrent in North West,” he says.

As well as, excessive enter prices and a scarcity of ample analysis into the therapy and administration of ailments, reminiscent of Newcastle illness and avian influenza, additionally contribute to creating ostrich farming an unattractive enterprise.

Lekalakala began off his operation by shopping for 17 day-old ostrich chicks from a farmer in Oudtshoorn and transporting them to North West.

After the 13-hour drive, he positioned the birds within the storage at his residence. As they grew bigger, he constructed a 4m x 3m roofed construction to maintain them secure at night time. The construction was left open through the day to allow the chicks to roam round outdoors.

A tough lesson
Rearing ostriches turned out to be difficult. After solely 10 months, 13 of the chicks had died, leaving him with solely two male and two feminine ostriches.

After consulting numerous veterinarians in Brits and Hartbeespoort, he found that the birds had died as a consequence of improper infrastructure. The open construction had left them too uncovered to rain and chilly at too younger an age, which had resulted in respiratory problems. As well as, he didn’t have correct entry to veterinary providers.

“I’m at present working with Afrivet to develop a vaccination programme and obtain technical assist. I attend their workshops with a member of the family who takes care of the farm and assists me,” he says.

Lekalakala provides that the workshops have taught him the significance of following correct process, in addition to deal with the birds appropriately. He has vaccinated his 4 remaining ostriches in opposition to Newcastle illness, and had them dewormed.

Shopping for a farm
In Could, he began in search of a farm, and approached the division of agriculture for help. He rapidly realised, nonetheless, that the method would take too lengthy.

“I had to purchase a farm as a substitute of ready,” he says.

He started through the use of his financial savings to settle his automotive mortgage, then offered the car. This positioned him in a greater monetary place to acquire a house mortgage, which he used to purchase a 7ha farm outfitted for ostrich breeding.

ostrich farm
The 7ha farm has 9 breeding camps of about 0,5ha every.

The property has two boreholes and is split into 9 breeding camps of about 0,5ha every. The extra 2,5ha continues to be within the technique of being divided into camps. The stocking price for ostriches is round 15 birds/0,25ha.

The breeding camps have been planted to lucerne and Rhodes grass, which has a
excessive dietary content material. The farm additionally has a upkeep workshop, and a metal container for housing newly hatched chicks.

This has infrared lighting to produce chicks with warmth, in addition to a air flow system, and about 60 chicks may be saved right here.

Lekalakala can also be changing two sheds into homes to allow him to maintain extra chicks. The birds can be moved into the camps at three months.

Reducing prices
Two main enter prices are feed and electrical energy. Happily, to offset the expense of feed, the earlier farmer had planted Rhodes grass and lucerne.

The farm is equipped with three-phase electrical energy, with energy purchased instantly from Eskom.

“The earlier farmer stated the invoice had been about R10 000/ month. The electrical energy is used largely for lighting to discourage jackal, that are a menace to the birds,” says Lekalakala.

The camps are additionally surrounded by wire fencing to discourage these predators.

To chop enter prices, he makes use of an analogous feeding technique to that of the earlier farmer, however provides inexperienced leafy greens, reminiscent of unmarketable spinach and cabbage leaves, sourced from native farmers.

“The ostriches appear to get pleasure from it. I often put aloe of their consuming water, which works as a laxative to advertise a wholesome intestine,” he says.

The mortgage on the property constitutes 60% of his month-to-month revenue, which prevents him from shopping for a automotive to enhance operations and deliveries. Nevertheless, he’s in talks with a possible enterprise accomplice, which may assist overcome this problem. To additional reduce prices, he plans to include solar energy.

Feeding and breeding
After they hatch, the chicks can be fed starter crumbs for 90 days. Thereafter, they’re fed grower pellets till they attain the age of 120 days. From this level, they obtain upkeep feed.

“Grower pellets price R256 for 40kg, which doesn’t final every week. I purchased two luggage each fortnight, feeding 4kg/fowl/day, 2kg within the morning and 2kg in night.”

He follows the feeding routine recommended within the Ostrich Enterprise Chamber’s manufacturing guide.

The birds are prepared for mating at about 36 months, once they weigh between 120kg and 150kg. Ostriches can lay as much as 40 eggs per breeding season, which runs from Could till January. Fertilised eggs incubate for 36 days.

Ostriches are slaughtered at 10 months, at a carcass weight of about 75kg.

Lekalakala is finalising a cope with an investor to assist him purchase 150 chicks. One B-grade chick prices about R450. He intends elevating and promoting 100 of those, and dividing the remaining 50 into breeding pairs.

“When you have a small flock [15 birds or fewer], you gained’t break even,” he says.

Lekalakala believes that to be really worthwhile within the business, one must be concerned in your entire ostrich worth chain, producing meat, leather-based and feathers, all completed on the farm. This comes with different price implications, nonetheless.

Alternatives
Lekalakala plans to capitalise on the native vacationer market by supplying meat and leather-based merchandise to guesthouses, accommodations and eating places. He additionally desires to supply farm excursions.
He provides that ostriches are sociable, which makes them ultimate to be used in an agritoursim concern.

“I’m nonetheless participating plenty of stakeholders recognized as related to the enterprise, however nothing has been finalised,” he says.

Electronic mail Kabelo Lekalakala at [email protected].

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