Using Traditional Patterns of Lending and Borrowing Livestock

Livestock and beekeeping

Notes to broadcasters

Content: In parts of South Africa people lend livestock to family members and neighbours. The borrower takes care of the animal for some time and keeps some of the offspring when the animal is returned to the owner. This is a cooperative practice which has benefits for both lender and borrower.

Length: 403 words; 3 minutes, 30 seconds (approx.)


Harvey Harman has studied many traditional practices of farmers in Transkei, South Africa. One of them is the practice of lending farm animals to family members and neighbours.

Harvey tells us that it works like this. A farmer lends some livestock to a neighbour. This person, the borrower, takes care of these animals until they produce offspring. When the parent stock is returned to the original owner, the borrower keeps some of the offspring in return for taking care of the animals. With poultry the offspring are divided in half. The borrower keeps half, and then the parent stock and the other half of the offspring go back to the original owner. For larger animals, like sheep, goats, and cattle, the original owner decides how the offspring will be divided. Usually the first year’s offspring go to the original owner, and some of the second year’s offspring go to the borrower.

Harvey explains: “We have been using this well-established practice ourselves to help some of our neighbours get access to ducks and geese. We first got some young ducks and started raising them. We only had enough the first year to share with one other person. The second year we had enough ducklings to share with seventeen other people. In the third season we helped at least thirty more people get started with ducks.”

So, without having to buy stock in the first place, all these people now have their own ducks and they are now lending their extra ducks to other interested people. The scheme works because it follows a traditional pattern that is well understood. The benefit to both parties multiplies rapidly. The lenders increase their livestock without needing to feed or care for the animals. They also spread their risk so that they have more assurance of some of the animals doing well. The borrower gets animals without needing to buy them.

Also, the borrowers can keep the food produced by the animals, such as eggs or milk. Or they could use a cow or water buffalo as a work animal.

In the region where Harvey Harman worked, slowly but surely, anyone who is interested in raising ducks is getting the chance to do so, all because of this well known, old system of lending and borrowing farm animals. Perhaps this is something you might try out with your neighbours.



Information in this item was received from DCFRN participant Harvey Harman who worked for several years as a community development worker in Transkei, South Africa.