Variation in cattle numbers, rainfall amount and land availability in Tlokweng sub district, Botswana
This study describes and analyses cattle management in Tlokweng Sub District. Two methods were used. The two are households' interviews and a system dynamics STELLA model called the Rain Land Cattle model, which was adapted from the 1990 Braat and Opschoor model. Ninety households, 61% of the 1991 households in the study area, were interviewed. All the households had arable fields and fifty nine percent had cattle. The Rain Land Cattle model uses 52 parameters to predict several cattle management factors, which include rainfall, stocking rate, total grazing area and livestock water availability. The model explored the use of parameters to relate water availability to grazing area and show the seasonality of the water source. Sixty two percent of the household had access to an ideal livestock water source. Cattle graze from the 5000 hectares of arable area for four months after harvesting. This seasonal grazing, optimises the uses of the grazing resource in the small sub - district. The model simulated a S and 20 percent permanent grazing land loss. Such a grazing land loss, increased the stocking rate, decreased the carrying capacity and cast doubt on sustainable cattle production. The model shows that the stocking rate is chronically greater than the carrying capacity. Most households acknowledged that there was land pressure due to the loss of grazing land. A drier climate scenario will lead to a loss of seasonal grazing, reduced livestock water, which will increase cattle emigration and cause cattle management problems. The model is exploratory; it needs to be validated. It is easily understood, adaptable to other communal areas, and identifies the most influential factors in cattle management. The livestock water parameters functioned reliably in the model. Based on the understanding of the cattle management derived from this study, more fenced grazing land is unlikely to improve the cattle management in the area.