What is Animal Traction?
Animal traction is the use of animals such as bulls, oxen, donkeys, mules and horses to assist farmers in carrying tasks, for example:-
- ploughing, harrowing, planting, ridging, weeding, mowing and harvesting
- pulling carts and loads as well as carrying loads (pack animals)
- driving water-pumps and pulling water from wells
- carrying bricks, earth moving
- mixing materials, providing power for threshing machines and grain mills
Is Animal Traction Widespread?
A survey (source: Developing Agriculture with Animal Traction, T.E. Simalenga and A.B.D. Joubert, 1997) approximately 10 years ago showed that numerous small-scale farmers use animal traction.
Even in areas where tractors are used for ploughing, weeding and transporting manure are done by means of draught animals which are also used for mowing and raking hay, spreading fertiliser, dam building projects and logging.
Traction animals are often used for transporting goods and people in townships and rural areas.
Because of high oil prices, the weak rand and tractor scheme failures animal traction provides a cost-effective alternative source of power.
What are the Benefits of Animal Traction?
Animal traction is an appropriate, affordable, available and sustainable option which can:-
- provide small-scale farmers with vital power for cultivation and transport
- improve soil fertility by ploughing manure from draught animals back into the soil
- provide employment and transport, and promote food production (higher living standards)
- make marketing and trading easier (economic benefits)
- make transportation of the harvest and shopping easier
- relieve women and children of the burden of transporting water by hand, head or wheelbarrow
These benefits are to a great extent dependent upon healthy animals, with harness/equipment in good repair, being driven humanely and correctly.