Economic Viability of Milk Production Systems in Botswana

M Mahabile


Botswana imports approximately 75% of its milk requirement. These imports are mainly from the Republic of South  Africa and Zimbabwe and an increase in milk production has been govemment's concern. However there has not been  a study on the efficiency and profitability of milk production in this country. The purpose of the study was  therefore to quantitatively assess the levels of milk production under the two milking systems of machine and  hand milking. Primary data from 8 dairy farms around Gaborone and Lobatse for the period 1990/91 up to 1991/92 farming year was obtained. Parameters measured included among others, number of cows handled per person, the  herd size, number of employees per herd, time spent to milk a cow, milk production per cow per day, per cent  monthly feed and labour expenses were used in the analysis. The student t-test was used for comparison between the two milking systems. The gross margin technique was used to assess the returns that accrue to income from milk sales alone. The results of this study indicated that there were no major differences (P > 0.05) in the above parameters except milk production per cow per day in those herds keeping Friesian cows. Generally a downward trend in milk  production throughout the year was observed in this study. Feed costs compared to labour emerged to account for the largest portion of the dairy budget in both hand milking and machine milking systems. As expected, the proportions of labour costs in hand milked herds are higher than machine milked ones. Gross margins from milk sales of most herds were lower in both cases. If increased income from milk production is to be achieved, improvements in dairy nutrition as well as employment of milking techniques that take advantage of the peak milk "let down" are desirable.

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