Author(s): Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, Folasade Temitope Ogunkoya, Abiodun Olusola Omotayo
The study was conducted across the four district municipalities in the Free State province of South Africa. The objective of the study was to determine socioeconomic factors that affected livestock numbers among smallholder cattle and sheep farmers in the Free State province of South Africa. The research was qualitative and quantitative in nature. Proportionate random sampling method was used to collect data. Data between the 2008 and 2012 farming seasons were collected by administering well-structured questionnaires to 250 smallholder cattle and sheep farmers and analysed with descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics results indicated that lack of camp systems, drought prevalence, increased feed costs, poor veterinary interventions, insufficient breeding stock, high cost of fuel and transportation, lack of equipment, diseases, stock theft and pilfering, and insufficient grazing land were the prevalent factors that affected cattle and sheep farming in the province. The OLS regression results indicated that the variables that significantly affected livestock numbers were district, household size, livestock numbers in 2008, planted pastures, grazing land condition, grazing land acquisition, service, advice/training, veterinary services, purchase of dosing products and sales per year. The results also indicated that the majority (96.8%) of the smallholder cattle and sheep farmers would like to increase their livestock numbers. It was therefore recommended that extension and veterinary services should be strengthened in the study area. In addition, it was recommended that smallholder livestock farmers should be encouraged to plant pastures to reduce pressure on the natural veld and make forage available throughout the year. Lastly, as a recommendation, government should provide subsidies with distribution policies that will ensure that all smallholder livestock farmers can benefit.