In addition to the pages in the “Livestock” section, the reader is also referred to pages elsewhere on this website like “Animal feeds”, “Animal health” and “Precision livestock farming”.

  • 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

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.

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 the “Websites & publications” heading for Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) 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 the “Companies involved” heading.


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.

Animal welfare

We might adapt the philosopher’s quote to read, “I feel therefore I am”, to increase an awareness of livestock – or living stock. Animals are sentient beings i.e. they are conscious and can feel.

Welfare codes do not negatively influence animals’ performance. In some cases, performance will be even better, giving producers a return on their money.

The producer should not have any problem with Webster’s five freedoms, adopted by professional groups including veterinarians, the World Organisation for Animal Health and animal welfare organisations:

  • freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
  • freedom from discomfort
  • freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • freedom to express normal behaviour
  • freedom from fear and distress

How far the science of animal husbandry has evolved has everything to do with how well we blend profitable livestock farming with those listed freedoms.

Codes of Practice and National Standards

Several South African National Standards (SANS) and Codes of Practice setting out the minimum requirements for the relevant sectors (e.g. the poultry, feedlot etc) have been drawn up. These include:

  1. The South African Code of Practice – Pullet Rearing and Table Egg Production (ii) The South African Code of Practice – Commercial Layers (iii) The South African Code of Practice – Broiler Production (iv) The South African Code of Practice – Breeders and Day Old Chick Production
  2. Code for Feedlots
  3. Duties and Functions of the Abattoir Manager regarding the welfare of animals
  4. A Guideline for the use of Prodders and Stunning Devices in Abattoirs
  5. SANS 994-1:2011 Ratite farming
  6. Code of Conduct for the Commercial Production of Ostriches
  7. Code of Practice for the Transport, Handling and Slaughter of Ostriches
  8. Code of Practice for the Handling of Livestock at Saleyards and Vending Sites
  9. SANS 1469:2014: Humane handling and facilities for the protection of livestock at shows, auction sales, vending sites and livestock pounds
  10. Code of Practice for the Handling and Transport of Livestock
  11. SANS 1488:2014: Humane transportation of livestock by road
  12. SANS 1478:2016: Pig welfare
  13. SANS 1694:2018: The Welfare of Dairy Cattle

Interested parties can purchase copies of national standards from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) at 012 428 6102 or on Many of the Codes of Practice can be found on websites like those of the NSPCA and Livestock Welfare Co-ordinating Committee, Read about codes under development on the LWCC website.

Standards also exist which apply to the microbiology of food and animal feeding stuffs, and to stock remedies.



Find separate page in the Issues section.



Refer to the “Wildlife on farms” page.


Stock theft

Relevant legislation here is the Stock Theft Act 1959 (Act no. 57 of 1959) and Stock Theft Amended Act 28 of 1990. Find statistics for stock theft on Find information and notes at and

Stock-theft hampers the profitability of the stock farmer. It also interferes with the Government’s land reforming process and the empowering of the emerging farmers. For each stock-theft incident at a commercial farm, three similar incidents take place amongst emerging farmers. What makes it worse is that many emerging farmers suffer a total loss of stock – kraals are literally emptied. These farmers have to resort to other means to care for their families and to make a living.

Stock theft has become a business and there are clear indications of syndicate involvement. The days when a sizable portion of stock theft was ascribed to “pot slaughtering” are long gone.

Stock theft has a detrimental effect on the industry and on agriculture in general. Stock theft is estimated to cost around R1.24 billion, more if the estimated unreported cases are taken into account (National Stock Theft Prevention Forum, 2019). Solving the problem will make a huge contribution to the country’s self-sufficiency.

All buyers and traders of livestock should verify ownership and refuse to accept livestock that is not branded or which is without completed Documents of identification and Certificates of Removal.

A comprehensive document, Hints for the Prevention of Stock Theft, is available from the South African Police Service’s National Stock Theft Unit. It will help livestock owners to minimise their vulnerability, and to successfully lay charges against stock thieves. The Manual for the Prevention of Stock Theft is an updated second edition, published on behalf of the National Stock Theft Prevention Forum. Find it at and other websites. A third document, Addendum 3: Combatting stock theft, by the RPO and NERPO, can be found at

Role players

  • Several of livestock industry bodies like the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) founded the National Stock Theft Forum. Visit
  • Find contact details for the various livestock industry bodies in the relevant chapters.
  • The Stock-Theft Unit at the South African Police Service is a role player. Contact the national office at 012 393 1196/7.
  • Farmer unions like Free State Agriculture and Kwanalu (consult the “Organised agriculture” chapter).
  • Free State Stock theft helpline: 086 199 9300 vee [at]

Find the notes on stock theft at

Animal husbandry: useful information

Female reproductive data of our main farm animals

Livestock type Duration of oestrus cycle Duration of heat Timing of ovulation Duration of gestation
Cattle 18 – 24 days 6 – 24 hours 6 – 14 hours after oestrus 278 – 290 days
Sheep and goats 16 – 18 days 24 – 48 hours 12 – 24 hours before end of oestrus 144 – 152 days
Pigs 19 – 22 days 18 – 48 hours  at end of oestrus 114 – 120 days
Horses 18 – 24 days 4 – 9 days 36 – 48 hours before end of oestrus 320 – 370 days
Source: Dr Reinette Snyman, Cape Peninsular University of Technology


Transporting animals

  • The better you handle your animals, the more money they’ll earn for you. Move your animals safely and you will prevent injuries and deaths. Minimise stress on them to prevent loss in production and reproduction.
  • Before you leave (or when you get to the other side), don’t let animals stand in wet, muddy kraals – they can get all sorts of diseases there, including foot rot.
  • Learn how to handle individual animals so that you don’t hurt them or break their legs or horns. Don’t chase them, hit them or crowd them into small places. When loading them and there isn’t a ramp, pick them up carefully (for small stock). If you work well with your animals, they’ll become tame and manageable.
  • Don’t load too many animals onto a vehicle (see the “Trailers” chapter). This is against the law, and you may hurt your animals – breaking bones and bruising their meat. Also, don’t put different sized animals into the same compartment.
  • Animals must be able to stand up and breathe without trouble during transport. Place non-slip material on the load area to stop animals from sliding around during the trip.
  • Drive carefully, especially around corners or on hills. Never brake suddenly as the animals will move forward and squash one another. Stop every few kilometres to check if the load is still okay.
  • The best time to transport stock is early morning or late afternoon. This is especially so in summer. If you have to park somewhere for awhile, do so in the shade as animals get heat-stressed quite easily.
  • When herding animals on foot or on horseback, don’t move too fast, especially if there are lambs, calves or pregnant animals in the flock. If you have to move them over a long distance, start early in the day so that you can rest them. Give them water along the way.
Source: The article “Handle your animals gently” by Roelof Bezuidenhout on 


The SABS National Standard Transportation of Livestock by Road and the Animals Protection Act, 71 of 1962 apply when animals are transported. Provisions include points like no animal may be transported for more than 18 hours without being offloaded and rested; and no pregnant animals may be transported. See also the Code of Practice for the Handling and Transport of Livestock.


Estimating the water required for livestock

To estimate the quantity of water required daily per animal, allow:

  • 6,5 litres per day per head of sheep
  • 45 litres per day per head of cattle or horses
  • 90 litres per day per head of dairy cattle
  • 9 litres per pig 18 litres per hundred birds (poultry)
Source: Southern Cross Industries

Associations and industry bodies


General livestock associations

Each of the livestock chapters gives details of relevant associations and other role players. Associations with an involvement across the livestock spectrum include the ones listed below.

  • Livestock Welfare Co-ordinating Committee (LWCC) Tel: 012 807 1367
  • Ruminant Veterinary Association of South Africa (RuVASA), formerly the Livestock Health and Production Group (LHPG), Tel: 012 346 1590
  • The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) is sometimes drawn into debates on matters related to livestock. Visit
  • South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) Tel: 012 420 6017


Animal welfare role players

Initially formed to ensure the welfare of food animals at the abattoirs in South Africa, the Animal Farm unit at the NSPCA inspects, researches, educates, and promotes the welfare of all animals being farmed. Its extended functions now include:

  1. Assisting. Practical solutions to assist farmers and at the same time uplifting the welfare of animals.
  2. Education. Carried out in indigent communities at arranged outreach programmes throughout the country.
  3. Inspections. Law enforcement – educate and then prosecute.
  4. Legislation. To promote, research, initiate amendments, or new legislation to enhance animal welfare.
  5. Reactive. Reacts and deals with accidents involving livestock, or disaster situations.
  6. Training. Workshops are presented to state departments, and training is given to inspectors at local societies throughout South Africa.

Small Scale Farmers

An increasing number of Government and internationally sponsored small scale individual and co-operative farming projects as well as large commercial projects for previously disadvantaged people are being established in commercial farming areas. The NSPCA has worked reactively and proactively on such projects, trying to establish where they are and visiting to make contact, give guidance and monitor. Poor administration or ignorance can lead to considerable suffering of animals and deaths.

Veterinary Services Back-Up

State Veterinary Services do not exist in certain (usually remote and impoverished) areas and in other areas, they are inadequate to cope. The NSPCA has taken on the role of outreach – to provide a veterinary service back-up. Specific outreach programmes and projects are undertaken, in addition to any reactive or response work that may be required.

The Farm Animal Unit of the National Council of SPCAs performs various workshops and lectures to relevant state departments to remind and enlighten teaching, research or production facilities on current animal welfare trends, legislation, moral and social responsibilities. If other organisations, departments, educational facilities wish to have similar workshops carriedout, please contact the NSPCA via email on nspca [at]

National strategy and government contact

The legislative framework that covers stock farming includes:


Several relevant standards and codes exist. See previous heading 2, “Animal husbandry: some issues”. The two general livestock National Standards which apply are:

  • SANS 1469:2014 Humane handling and facilities for the protection of livestock at shows, auction sales, vending sites and livestock pounds
  • SANS 1488:2014 Humane transportation of livestock by road


The National Livestock Development Strategy (NLDS) aims to enhance the sustainability of animal agriculture in South Africa across the entire production, processing and supply chain. Implementation includes establishing sector working groups, mobilising rural stock owners and keepers towards economic production, and supporting systems for the conservation of veld and livestock resources through sustainable use. Find the Livestock identification and traceability system (LITS) document on Also available on the website is the publication Livestock Development Strategy for South Africa, (take the “Resource Centre” and “General publications” options).

Find the parliamentary Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development committee meeting notes (10 September 2019) in which the Animal and Veld Management Programme (AVMP) is discussed. See The Animal and Veld Management Programme (AVMP) focuses on bringing arable and grazing land into production by providing the entire required infrastructure like fencing, boreholes, irrigation systems, cattle handling and dipping facilities, dams etcetera. In addition the AVMP supported re-greening and soil rehabilitation.


Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

  • Directorate: Animal Production Tel: 012 319 7597 / 7493 JoelM [at] and MahlodiM [at]
  • Directorate: Animal Health Tel: 012 319 7456/7615 Mpho.Maja [at]
  • Import and Export Permits- Animals and Animal Products Tel: +27 12 319 7514/ 7632 / 7503 / 7414 WeekendM [at]


The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) offers support to farmers to improve their herds and participate in the value chain. Read about Kaonafatso ya dikgomo (KyD) and other interventions like the Nguni Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) in the ARC annual report and on its website,


The National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) is involved with the National Red Meat Development Programme (NRMDP), assisting emerging farmers to participate in red meat markets. Find more at

Training and research

See the “Agricultural education and training” page, as well as the individual livestock pages.

Animal husbandry training is included in the diplomas as well as in short courses offered by Agricultural Colleges. Some of these institutions have a particular focus e.g. Grootfontein concentrates on small stock. Examples of some short courses presented at Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal are: poultry production, dairy production (basic); small-scale dairying; beekeeping (also presented in Zulu); goat production; pig production; and dairy processing. Find details of all Agricultural Colleges in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.

  • AgriSETA-accredited training providers do courses in livestock production. An example is Skills for Africa whose courses have included broiler, cattle and small stock production. Find details of this provider and others at and in the “Agricultural education and training” chapter.
  • Find out about AMT research services at Speak to Johnny van der Merwe at 073 140 2698.
  • Call the ARC-Animal Production at 012 672 9153 for information on training courses. These include: beef cattle management, meat cuts and processing, small stock management, pig artificial insemination, poultry production and pig production. Information can also be found at
  • The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) produces an annual agricultural outlook, projecting what is likely to happen (given certain assumptions) in the livestock and other agricultural sectors. Visit
  • Read about learnerships in animal production at (take the “ Skills delivery” option).
  • The Red Meat Research and Development Trust (RMRDT) has as CSS (cattle and small stock) focus areas like livestock theft prevention, predation management, animal health and welfare etc. . Read more at
  • Included in the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)-accredited qualifications are titles like Assess the influence of the environment on sustainable livestock production; Apply standard animal feeding procedures; Recognise defensive behaviour in animals; Harvest animal products; Understand animal nutrition; Identify basic breeding practices for farm animals; Evaluate external animal anatomy and morphology; and Minimise risk in animal management. Find the “Qualifications and Learning Material” option at
  • The South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) is an association of animal scientists who “advance animal science and promote viable animal production systems, while sustaining natural resources and the environment”. The website,, contains scientific papers and much more.

Animal Husbandry training is included in training offered by Universities and Universities of Technology. For the complete list, consult the “Agricultural education and training” page.

Companies involved

For anti-predator equipment see the “Wildlife on farms” page. Providers of livestock software are listed in “Animal improvement & breeders”. For livestock weighing scales see “General farm equipment“.

  • Abaserve Tel: 012 460 7834 Abattoir software
  • Accelerate Design Tel: 012 666 9733 Feeders and water troughs
  • Agri Shalom Tel: 082 636 1785 Livestock handling solutions
  • Agri-Alert Tel: 018 293 1291 Anti-stock theft and GPS systems
  • Agrifeed Systems Tel: 048 881 1711/ 082 652 4930 Feed mixers
  • Algar Tel: 082 888 9081 Livestock handling equipment
  • Allflex SA Tel: 021 854 8877 Visual and EID tags, microchips and other identification and monitoring solutions
  • AMT Johnny van der Merwe – 073 140 2698
  • Animal Handling & Safety Equipment Services Tel: 0861 264625 Animal control poles, gloves, cages, remote injection equipment
  • Antrovet Tel: 011 826 2988 Animal identification, animal handling and animal health products
  • AXXON Tel: 021 007 5778 Milking systems for cattle and small stock. Electronic Weighing and ID systems for all classes of stock
  • Bessemer Tel: 011 762 5341/2 Poultry houses, bulk feed bins, Brandt mobile agricultural products
  • Big Five Gate & Fence Manufacturing and construction Tel: 053 832 1101 Manufacture livestock scales, mobile corals, troughs and more
  • BJP Supplies Tel: 023 342 6070 / 082 335 3970 Manufacturer of feed mixers, pellet machines, hammer mills and electronic scales
  • Bonnox Pora-Pen Tel: 012 666 8717 Mobile coral
  • C-Lines South Africa Tel: 011 425 0876 Pig, poultry and other farm buildings constructed
  • Cango Engineering Tel: 044 272 3590
  • CattleWatch Tel: 031 837 2806 remote monitoring / IoT solution
  • Chemvet Tel: 011 437 9000 Chicken and pig houses
  • Diamond Implements Tel: 013 665 1032 Various animal feeders and other products
  • Dicla Farm and Seeds Tel: 011 662 1371 / 63  Poultry equipment
  • Drotsky Aktief & Agrifeed Systems Tel: 011 864 1601/2 Manufacturers of hammer mills, feed mixers, pelleting machines and other feed processing equipment
  • GSI Group Africa (Pty) Ltd Tel: 011 794 4455 A variety of equipment for poultry and pig farming e.g. fans, heaters, electronic climate controls, feeders, watering systems etc.
  • Havco Tel: 017 712 5355 Animal handling and feeding equipment
  • Hekkies Tel: 072 228 8807 handling equipment for small stock
  • HOTSURE Tel: 0861 468 225 Biotelemetry solutions for pro-active risk management and precision farming. The benefits include: animal health remote monitoring, precision grazing and veld utilization monitoring, livestock and game remote monitoring (eco-tourism, health & safety), oestrus and bull performance monitoring
  • Image X Tel: 011 869 6888 Ultrasound scanners – for pregnancies in sheep, cattle, horses and goats
  • Jarvis Products Corporation RSA Tel: 011 454 0100 A complete range of equipment for the beef, sheep, pig, poultry and ostrich industry
  • John F Marshal Tel: 011 842 7100 Agro processing and abattoir equipment; a range of poultry, rabbit and livestock equipment
  • Keenan – see “Richard Keenan SA”
  • Kentmaster Tel: 011 455 3748 Equipment (e.g. carcass cutting tools) for the meat industry
  • Mfangano Solutions Tel: 011 440 2072 Recycling solutions, wood shavings for livestock bedding
  • New Quip Tel: 011 472 2201 Pig, poultry and dairy equipment
  • NMR Engineering Tel: 033 263 1056 Animal handling and weighing equipment – scales, movable kraals, animal tilts, feeders, drinking troughs, loading ramps, clamps, portable pens, foot baths, spray dips etc.
  • Pennells Tanks Tel: 015 516 4981/2/3 Water troughs
  • Plantkor Tel: 060 577 8168
  • POLTEK Tel: 011 866 1240/2 Crates, Chicken Feeders, Chicken Drinkers, Poultry Feeders, Poultry Drinkers, Plastic Poultry Equipment, and a general range of products for the poultry industry
  • Ratsbrand Tel: 084 581 1599 Livestock handling equipment
  • RAU Easy Farming Tel: 082 550 6883 Immobilisers, branding and other cattle equipment
  • RFID-Experts Africa Tel: 021 556 0003
  • Richard Keenan SA (Pty) Ltd Tel: 021 865 2669 Suppliers of Mixer Wagons and Orbital Spreaders.
  • Roff Industries Tel: 056 212 2697 Feed mixers and more
  • Rolo Voermengers Tel: 082 964 6879/ 082 350 8051 Feed mixers
  • Safe Tag Animal Identification Systems Tel: 043 763 1345
  • Sprayrace Africa Livestock Solutions Tel: 083 494 5478
  • Storti International (Northmec) Tel: 011 922 2300 Feed mixers
  • TADBIK UHF Animal Tags Tel: 011 830 1437
  • TAGEM Tel: 033 387 1575 A range of animal eartags supplied for traceability
  • TAL-TEC Tel: 012 250 2188 Manufacturer of cattle and sheep handling equipment
  • Technilamp Tel: 011 839 1837 “Infrared Lamps Key in Profitable Livestock Care”
  • Top Canvas Tel: 044 878 1138 / 083 262 2697  “An innovative way to get that ‘down’ cow up in a jiffy”
  • Trogtek Tel: 057 355 1151 Feed and water cribs
  • Uniclox Tel: 011 439 2000 Livestock weighing and livestock counting solutions
  • Van Zyl Staalwerke Tel: 058 863 2452/ 082 800 1389 Feed mixers and feeding troughs
  • VentGrow RFID Readers for livestock management
  • Vision Cattlequip Tel: 078 460 3322
  • W & W Krippe Tel: 082 789 4777 Feed and water troughs, feeding rings
  • Whole Concepts Tel: 053 927 4999 NoseRings® for weaning livestock [Neusringe om Lewendehawe te speen]
  • Ziehl-Abegg South Africa Fans and control engineering products
  • Zoological Live Animal Suppliers Tel: 011 964 1446 Surgical tools and equipment (medical and veterinary), animal handling and other specialised equipment

Websites and publications

See this heading on the different Livestock pages on this website. Refer also to the websites of the different livestock role players e.g. the Red Meat Producers Organisation,; the South African Pork Producers etc.

Find the numerous livestock publications under “Resource centre” at These are referred to in the individual livestock pages on this website. Some Info Paks that refer to livestock generally include:





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