Table of Contents

In addition to the other chapters in the “Livestock” section, the reader is also referred to ones elsewhere in this handbook like “Animal feeds”, “Animal health”, “Precision livestock farming” and “General farm equipment”.


1. Overview

Statistics for herd composition, slaughterings etc can be found on – take the “Resource Centre” and “Statistical Information” menu options. Also find the latest quarterly economic overview.
  • The livestock sector accounts for more than 40% of the total value of agriculture.
  • From a food and income security point of view, animal agriculture is the primary income generator in the majority of rural areas domestically and in the developing world.
  • Animal food products are a major contributor to a balanced diet because of the high biological value of their protein and significant quantities of high bioavailable minerals and vitamins.
  • Animal fibre products quantitatively contribute significantly to the clothing, leather, housing and decorative industries.
  • Livestock earnings amount to about 10% of agricultural exports and through import plays a significant role in stabilising the economies of SADC countries.
  • The natural resources of South Africa are far more suited to livestock farming than to growing crops (only some 11% of our soils are suitable for crops). The bulk of increased production and rural development will come from livestock farming.
Source: Challenges for the animal science industries and profession – a strategic perspective, a paper by Dr Heinz Meissner 


2. Animal husbandry: some issues

Animal identification

The Animal Identification Act (Act No. 6 of 2002) replaced the old Livestock Brands Act (Act No. 87 of 1962).

  • It is compulsory to mark all cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
  • A permanent legal mark is the first line of defence against stock theft.
  • The legislation in South Africa provides for an effective animal identification system.

Refer to heading 8 for Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) publications about the Identification of animals in terms of Animal Identification Act (Act No. 6 of 2002). These set out information like how to register an identification mark, what is not included as an identification mark, alternative method of identification, parts on which animals must be identified etc. These are available on the Resource Centre web pages at

Marking operator training courses are run, which cover the theory and techniques of branding, tattooing etc. Contact the Registrar of Animal Identification. Tel: 012 319 7431/3 sanetc [at]

The LIDCAT™ LIVESTOCK IDENTIFICATION is an irrefutable identification system for animals. A biological sample is collected from individual animals and stored under ideal conditions. In the case of theft or a dispute over parentage, the system can be used to identify the animal beyond doubt. The contact person is Prof Norman Maiwashe at the ARC in Irene. Contact him at 012 672 9028.

The reader is also referred to radio frequency identity tags (RFID) and the other methods employed. Find contact details of role players involved with animal identification under heading 7.

NB: The Animal Identification Act, 2002 (Act no.6 of 2002) makes it compulsory for all livestock owners to apply for a registered identification mark from the registrar of Animal identification.