Farmers Day – Western Cape

Farmers Information Day – Western Cape

I was invited to present a talk at a Farmers Day in Caledon, Western Cape on the 22nd of August 2017. With 115 farmers attending on the day it was a rewarding and successful day. With my experience in trapping I focused my presentation on the correct type of cages, the correct setting and placement of cages, especially for catching caracal which seemed to be the biggest problem animal amongst the livestock farmers in that area.

Mr Niel Viljoen

The next day the farmers had an information day in Bredasdorp. The day was arranged to be resented on one of my monitoring farms in the Western Cape and was a much more practical day where I also invited other guest speakers.

One of the guest speakers was Mr Philip Lötter from Farm Ranger who explained to the farmers the future use of the product called ‘Farm Ranger Livestock Security Collar’, previously known as Celmax collars. Mr Lötter explained the correct way of fitting the collars on the livestock, sheep in this case, also explaining the correct number of collars to be used in a flock size. He highlighted the improvements on the collars which included a longer battery life as well as the latest technology incorporating immediate GPS coordinate reporting from the moment the collar is armed. The collars are linked to the farmer’s cell phone. The collar is not only used for predators’ detection but one of the best methods for quick response and recovery of livestock from stock theft. For more information farmers can visit the website FarmRanger.

Another guest speaker was Mr Pieter Albertyn, the farm owner where the meeting was held. He gave the farmers an overview of how farmers can use Alpacas to protect livestock against predators.

After the presentation session we accompanied Mr Pieter to the veld where we observed the Alpacas at work between the sheep. An interesting aspect of the practical was demonstrated when the protection instincts of the Alpaca was displayed as Mr Pieter allowed one of his dogs to get too close to the flock of sheep which the Alpacas were protecting.

Most interesting was to observe the special bond between the sheep and the Alpaca and how the sheep also learn to obey and react to the warning sounds made by the Alpaca. The moment the Alpaca made the alarming noise all the sheep suddenly lifted their heads and moved closer and gathered behind the Alpaca, seeking protection from their guardian.

Below is a letter (in Afrikaans) written by Mr Pieter advising livestock farmers on their choice of choosing the correct Alpaca.

(click here for English version)


Alpakkas as Skaapwagters.

Ek het met die hulp van Alpakkas my verliese met ongediertes afgebring vanaf 300 lammers ‘n jaar na ongeveer 80. Dit is basies ‘n 70% afname in verliese weens ongediertes.

Die kies van ‘n Alpakka:

Die Alpakka moet groot wees en ‘n minimum van 65kg weeg . Hy moet aggresief lyk en wees. Dit moet van die Hyaca tipe wees en nie van kleiner Suri tipe nie.
As die woorde “cute” en mooi troeteldier aan die alpaca gekoppel word dan is die dier te klein.
Die Alpakka moet ten minste 18 maande oud wees en as dit manlik is gekastreer wees want hulle kan skaap ooie seer maak en wil ooie dek.
Moet nie Alpakkas kry met blou oë nie want hulle kan doof wees of oog probleme kry of hê.

In sy natuurlike habitat is hy die prooi van ”mountain lions”. Hy werk goed teen die kleiner roofdiere soos jakkalse en rooikatte. Hy sal voëls soos kraaie en seemeeue en ander roof voëls wegjaag. [Ek het verlede week gesien hoe ‘n valk van ‘n duif af weggejaag word deur Alpakkas.] Met jakkalse wat in famielie verband jag beveel ek Alpacas gekombineerd met donkies aan. [Die donkie jaag die jakkals weg en Alpacas bly by die trop om te keer dat die skape omsingel word]. Ek kon my verliese heeltemal stop met twee donkies en twee Alpacas in ‘n kamp wat slegs 200m weg was van die aktiewe teelgate van jakkalse.

As ‘n ongeleerde Alpakka gekoop word moet baie tyd en energie gespandeer word om die Alpakka deel te maak van ‘n skaap trop. Die maak of breek van die hele oefening is hoe goed die Alpakka by die trop aanpas. Hy moet dink dit is sy trop en hy moet sy trop beskerm tot die dood toe. Jy kan dubbeld betaal vir ’n geleerde Alpakka tot R10,000. Teen daardie prys hoef hy net een lam per jaar te red om vir homself te betaal oor sy gemiddelde leeftyd van 15 jaar. My werkende Alpakkas beteken vir my so 15 lammers meer vir elke Alpakka per jaar.
Hy kan lekker skop, byt en spoeg as hy wil.
Uit my ondervinding van ongeleerde Alpakkas, werk 30% uitstekend 30% gemiddeld en die res is maar uitskot. Vir ‘n beginner koop maar geleerde Alpakkas totdat die boer gewoond is aan hulle.

Die Alpakkas moet gehanteer word net soos ‘n skaap. Doserings en entings. Hy moet in die somer afgeskeer word met ‘n lang kam om sonsteek te verhoed en net sy kuif moet nie geskeer word nie.

So eenkeer ‘n maand moet na die trop gekyk word in die nag om te sien dat die Alpakkas saam met die skape loop. Enige tyd wanneer Alpakkas nie met skape loop nie moet hulle gekraal word met skape om te sien dat die “bonding” reg is.

As ek verliese kry by ‘n trop sal ek eers kyk na die “bonding”. Na die tweede aand sit ek “cellmax alarm” op die trop en bestuur die trop soos die alarm afgaan en doen nagskiet. As jy by die kamp aankom kyk in die rigting waarna die Alpakkas kyk en daar sal jou probleem 9 uit 10 keer wees.

Moet nie jou skaap trop groter as 200 maak nie, die trop raak dan net te groot vir die Alpakka. As daar baie bosse in die kamp is en die trop wei die hele kamp vol en breek in klein groepies op dan neem die effektiewiteit van die Alpakka baie af. Op ‘n trop van 150 wil ek twee alpakkas by hê. Te veel Alpakkas en hulle beweeg weg van die trop.

Ek het ook nou ‘n paar gevalle gehad waar lammers van die ooie geskei was en dan sal daardie Alpakka moetie maak om die lammetjie by die trop te kry of bo oor die lammetjie te staan en skreeu totdat die ooi die lammetjie kom haal. Ons gaan nou proewe met Alpacas doen op ‘n plaas sonder enige ongedierte probleem wat in klein lam kampies lam (van Maart volgende jaar). My persoonlikke gevoel is daar gaan meer lammers gespeen word waar Alpakkas is. Hulle het ongelooflikke beskermings instinkte.

In Australia is daar nou 500 000 Alpakkas en so 5000 word jaarliks op veilings verkoop. Baie van hulle word verkoop vir ongedierte beheer veral teen “dingoes” en “feral” honde.

Dankie
Pieter Albertyn


 

I then also did a PowerPoint presentation on the managing strategies of predators, their behaviour and the correct choice and implementation of the control methods. Although Black Backed Jackal do occur in this part of South Africa a lot of the damage done amongst livestock was done by Caracal and therefore we spend most of the time on cages, the correct cage, bait, placement of cages, etc. It was a very interesting day and a lot of spontaneous farmers with many questions and worries of how to manage predators but also at the same time how to preserve nature.

We ended the day with a braai that was sponsored by Mr Pieter Albertyn.

Many thanks to Mr Pieter and Jannie Fourie (NWGA) for all the arrangements and entertaining the farmers and their co-workers for the day. This was surely a very interesting day with the focus on the Alpaca being one of the best ways of non lethal management to protect livestock against predators.