Red Poll Cattle at Shiwa N'Gandu, Northern ZambiaC and J Harvey Farms
The herd of Red Poll cattle was established in 2010 when the very enthusiastic Mark Taylor of Woragus Stud allowed us to have bull 08115 a pedigree bull from the famous Homalime Red Poll stud in Kenya (homalime.com). This bull’s offspring crossed with Borans (East Africa Zebu) and the Jersey dairy herd impressed us so much that we offered 20 plus female stock, these animals become the basis for the Shiwa N’gandu Red Poll herd.
The farm is in northern Zambia at Shiwa N’gandu (shiwangandu.com) with season rain fall (approx. 1,200 mm) all falling from November to March, and a long dry season with no grass growth. The soils are very infertile and highly acid from ph 3.8 to 4.2, so really need to be looked after to grow good grass and forage crops.
The System - The herd of 95 Red Poll/Red Poll cross Boran cows are a proportion of the 600 cow breeding herd. The animals with higher milk potential are drafted into the ranch dairy herd of approximately 30 milking cows. These are milked once a day in the morning and suckle their calves during the day, for a simple milk production system, dependent on the milk to feed ratio. As this ratio is moving in a favourable direction we are expecting to draft in additional 48 heifers coming in behind this year into the dairy herd.
Productivity and market - The milk is marketed directly to consumers, in a naturally soured form so milk composition of butter fat and protein very important. The cross bred herd yields approximately 3,400 litres per annum (approx. 260 day lactation) with approx. 380 inter calving. In addition to a weaner of approx. 200 kg at eight months, which are then prepared for sale at 24 months (a year earlier than their Boran age mates) to aim for the peak Christmas market. These finish with a weight of 380 kg and a dressing out % of 56 %. The cows are supplemented with a cost effective maize bran/protein supplement, and farm grown velvet bean/teff hay.
Breed selection - Animals with short hair and smooth coats are preferred as they have significantly lower tick burden, and the farm also carries 2,500 head of antelope and other wildlife. In the past some South African and Australian genetics has been introduced to provide some infusion.
Very happy to answer any questions any Red Poll enthusiasts may have on this simple ranch dairy system and how the Red Poll has been used to fit into our system.