Most of South Africa’s black rural population reside in the former homelands or Bantustans, commonly referred to as communal areas by the post-apartheid government (Clark and Luwaya 2017).
Amongst a variety of livelihood activities that black rural households engage in, livestock production offers multiple-use value, although its contribution to local livelihood is sometimes underestimated (C. M. Shackleton et al. 2005).
Some of the objectives that livestock production in black rural areas seeks to achieve include ‘bride price payment, ritual and ceremonial slaughter, meat, milk, occasional cash sales and savings, as well as providing draught power and manure as inputs to crop production’ (Cousins 2018: 373). Indeed, C. M. Shackleton et al. (2005) and Twine (2013) found livestock production to be an essential asset that enables black rural households to spread livelihood risks and build resilience.
Given its wide range of benefits, it is unsurprising to note that about 1.11 million black households were involved in livestock production in either subsistence or market-oriented farming between 2009 and 2015 (Cousins 2018). The enormous contributions livestock production makes to rural livelihood in communal areas are perhaps why it is deemed a vehicle that can reduce the high poverty and inequality levels through the injection of effective policies (Hall and Cousins 2013).