Performance, management and objectives of cattle farming on communal ranges in Namibia

M. Siegmund-Schultze*, F. Lange, U. Schneiderat, J. Steinbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy grazing of communal rangeland appears to be in conflict with the societal aim of conserving biodiversity. Understanding the grazing system in context is essential for intervention. One mixed and one pastoral system along a rainfall gradient on communal lands in Namibia were studied. Data on 224 calves were gathered from the life history data of 81 cows. Body measurements of 80 cattle were recorded. Fifteen households were interviewed regarding their cattle management practices. Age at first calving differed between the two systems, being 32 months in the pastoral and 61 in the mixed system. Calving intervals were shorter and the number of parities higher in the pastoral system (16 c.f. 27 months, and 3.0 c.f. 2.2, respectively). Cows in the mixed system were older (100 c.f. 60 months), and had better body condition. In the pastoral system, male calves were sold and females retained, while in the other, male calves were kept in the herd. In the mixed system, males provided draught power and their grazing resources were primarily threatened by cropland expansion. In the pastoral system, reducing head counts in order to diminish grazing pressure would require incentives and alternative options through changes in societal priorities and policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Herd size
  • Life history interviews
  • Mixed farming system
  • Pastoral farming system


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