Karoo farmers forced to cull 'weak sheep' amid worsening Northern Cape drought

Sheep farmers in the Northern Cape have been left with no other option but to send more of their starving livestock to slaughterhouses.

Francy Schoeman is a farmer from Williston, a small town tucked away in the Upper Karoo of the Northern Cape.

She and her husband Peter are the owners of Langbaken farm along with 160 other commercial farmers and at least another 60 emerging farmers in the dorpie.

RELATED: Northern Cape drought causing severe distress to local economy

Schoeman says the worsening drought in the region has forced many sheep farmers to downscale their herds and send them to abattoirs.

Apart from the sheep, nothing can survive. There's nothing but rocks and dead bushes. There's nothing for any living thing to eat.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

Many farmers have had to downscale the size of their herd. Most farmers can't afford to keep feeding their sheep any longer.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

The animals are dying...Generally, farmers have been sending more animals to the abattoir than they would usually. Nothing gets spared nowadays.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

Schoeman has been a Karoo farmer for the past decade and says farming runs in her blood.

She and her husband were originally sheep farmers but, because of the harsh conditions in the Karoo, they had to diversify.

Their primary focus is now on their side-line business of producing cheese, named Langbaken Karoo Cheese.

It's now become the cheese business that is carrying us through this time.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

We're experiencing the most catastrophic drought in living memory.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

I'm a Karoo farmer for the last 10 years. My husband's family have been farming there for many, many generations.

Francy Schoeman, Northern Cape Sheep farmer

Charitable organisations including Gift of the Givers and Droogtehulp met Burre Burger have been helping desperate farmers with drought-relief parcels.

Burger, the founder of Droogtehulp, has been delivering fodder to farmers across South Africa who have been affected by drought conditions.

He's currently in Ireland to raise money towards the initiative.

If you want to make a donation to his project, visit the website Droogtehulp or the crowd-funding page.

Listen to the conversation with Francy Schoeman:

Listen to the discussion with Burre Burger:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Karoo farmers forced to cull 'weak sheep' amid worsening Northern Cape drought


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