On many occasions, farmers wait until it is too late, then they panic as pasture starts drying up. Although there is nothing you can do about the intensity of the heat, you should be aware of the likely effects that extremely high temperatures will have on your farming.
Cassim Masaba, a cattle keeper, says with diminishing pasture, feeds should be prepared well in advance to feed the animals in the months. “For example, during the winter months, farmers in the temperate countries manage to feed their animals although there is no grass in the fields”, he says.
He says we can borrow a leaf from them and make sure our animals also survive in times of scarcity.
“Right now, there is still plenty of green grass everywhere. From this grass we can make hay or silage for our animals during the long dry season,” Masaba advises.
Dr Jolly Kabirizi, a livestock nutrition expert, says hay-making is a simple process but can be the lifeline for your livestock in the critical days ahead. Cut the grass, which should be a lush green colour and bring home to dry, preferably in a clean shed. Napier or elephant grass is ideal. But it should be neither too young nor too old.
Kabirizi says farmers can determine the maturity of the grass by looking out for some signs like flowering and texture. For elephant grass, it is advisable to cut it into pieces two to three feet long.
‘In the shed, stand the stacks of grass to allow air to pass through the stack and dry up the grass. Using the open air drying method. It should never be sun-dried’, she advises.
Sunshine makes the grass too dry and causes loss of some important nutrients like vitamins. After several days, the grass will be dry. Tie into in bundles and place in a dry, well-aerated store.
Do not allow water to leak on the hay as it will make it go bad. The hay will come in handy in the months to come. For now, you may not imagine that the dry grass can be palatable.