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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2.1.

Introduction to animal traction

In many parts of the world, farmers have adapted hoes and cultivating tools so they can be pulled by people, animals or engines. This is called mechanized agriculture; the type of power used is called traction, or pulling power. Animal traction, animal powered mechanization, and animal draught are terms which describe the use of animals to pull farm equipment, vehicles, and other loads. The most common draught animals are cattle, horses and mules, but donkeys, camels, domestic water buffalo, yaks, dogs, reindeer and even elephants are used for traction in some parts of the world. The kind of animals used and the kind of work performed depend largely on people's resourcefulness in raising and training animals and devising hitches that allow them to pull.

History of animal traction Illustrations on the walls of Egyptian tombs show farmers using animal traction from as early as 1400 B.C. In these hieroglyphics the handle of a hand-held hoe was extended and lashed to the horns of oxen with rope. These illustrations also show humans pulling plows. The first plows, pulled by people or animals, probably were not used to break the soil but to stir soil which had already been loosened by hand-held hoes. Animals were used to pull branches across a seedbed in order to cover the scattered seed. In the transition from manual hoeing to human or animal traction, the basic "elbow" or "checkmark" design of the hoe did not change. What changed was the method of pulling. Instead of being pulled in a series of short, individual strokes or chops, the hoe was pulled continuously. It was this continuous motion which transformed the hoe into the "plow".

Why use animal traction? Agricultural mechanization has become a high priority in developing nations. This innovation is important because farmers using traditional techniques are unable to produce sufficient food for increasing populations. Mechanization can expand the area under cultivation and provide better soil preparation, leading to greater harvests. Government extension services therefore strive to give farmers tools, information and advice to enable them to increase productivity.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Benefits of mechanization to farmers include lightened workloads, better and more regular yields, or an easing of problems caused by short growing seasons or insufficient labor. Mechanization also can help to produce income with which farmers can acquire goods and services.


Draught animal power (DAP)

Despite motorization on all fronts the use of DAP is still often more economic than the use of machinery and vehicles, especially in small scale agriculture and in remote areas. Animals are produced and maintained locally and dont require the infrastructure needed for motorization. Where the value of machinery needs to be depreciated over time that of animals can appreciate because of growth.

The principal environmental advantage of DAP compared with mechanization is that DAP relies on bio-energy for its creation, maintenance and functioning instead of on fossil energy. Still, apart from these positive aspects, DAP can have negative impacts on the environment.

DAP in crop residue systems The use of DAP in land preparation allows the preparation of more land at the onset of the growing season. This is most relevant in areas with a short growing season for annual cash crops. This expansion of land under cultivation may cause increased pressure on the land around settlements and may result in less land being available for other land use options - including livestock grazing.

In these circumstances, unless the promotion of DAP is accompanied by appropriate levels of destocking, the resulting increased livestock densities on the remaining grazing land may lead to land degradation and erosion. In some cases, this could also lead to land-based social conflict, increased levels of poverty amongst the livestock sector.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 The advantage of manure produced by draught animals is often over estimated. A general estimate shows that the manure produced can compensate only of the extra requirements for manure caused by the expansion that can be realized.

DAP increases labor productivity. However, this also makes it still beneficial to cultivate marginal land and to prolong cultivation period even when expected yields per ha are low. Next, DAP is more easily employed in fields without roots of shrubs and trees. Consequently fallow periods will be shorter to prevent such "obstacles" appearing. Apart from lower yields per ha and higher risks of crop failure, the prolongation of cultivation and the shortening of fallow periods accelerates the process of soil mining and increases the risks of erosion and land degradation. When production levels decrease and new land is available elsewhere then farmers may move to there (i.e. as is the case in Northern Cameroon). When no alternatives are available then the production level will stagnate at a low level per ha and become more vulnerable for variations in weather conditions and for diseases (i.e. as is the case in the highlands of Ethiopia).

Crop cultivation is the primary factor responsible for soil mining and land degradation. However, Draught Animal Power also contributes to this process and can accelerate it. The longer term social, economic and environmental costs of the contribution by DAP to this process are often not considered in the calculations of cost benefit and internal rate of return of development programs promoting DAP.

Some options to mitigate the negative impact of DAP on soil fertility and land degradation are:

import (more) fertilizers to compensate for export of plant nutrients with crops and if required add more to improve the basic fertility of the soil

a combination of more animals and more fertilizers include fodder crops in crop rotation switch to "Feed from Farm" systems (i.e. agro forestry systems)

DAP in cut and carry systems In areas with intensive crop cultivation the basic soil fertility in general is higher and more fertilizers are used to support permanent crop cultivation. Farm sizes are small and the livestock /
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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 cropland ratio can be high. DAP is used to intensify production and can also be employed for transport and/or water hauling. Sharing of DAP and renting DAP services are common. In irrigated rice cultivation buffaloes are used for land preparation, transport and threshing.

Replacement of DAP with mechanization There is a trend to promote motorization in agriculture through development programs and direct or indirect subsidies. Animal traction is therefore replaced by tractor mechanization. However, the environmental cost of such a change is largely negative notably in respect of energy requirements. Tractor mechanization requires fossil fuel for production, maintenance and running, while working animals are produced and run on organic energy sources.

The impact is more an increase of fossil fuel requirements than a decrease in the use of available feed resources. In Indonesia for instance tractor mechanization in irrigated agriculture resulted in buffaloes (traction) being replaced by cattle (production of calves for fattening), making use of the same resources as buffaloes did earlier.

Policy Pressures and Options The use of draught animal power (DAP) can have an indirect impact where it allows the expansion of cultivation in production systems that have non-cultivated land available but are constrained by labour availability. Externally based attempts to introduce it into such systems must therefore be very carefully appraised for their impacts in terms of expansion of cultivable land. In practice however:

Such externally-based attempts have been notoriously difficult to implement, and subject to complex socio-economic factors

Successful introduction of DAP into areas where it is not traditionally used have often been associated with particular cash-crops (especially cotton), and powerful economic imperatives may drive the expansion of cultivation regardless of its environmental impact. If DAP is not used in such expansion, mechanical power may be, with possible negative consequences for equity.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 In systems where DAP is traditionally practiced, which are also likely to be constrained by land availability, a trend away from it is likely to have negative environmental impacts in terms of increased fossil fuel use. DAP development can also have positive environmental impacts in improving or creating low cost soil and water conservation technologies, as well as equity and welfare benefits in assisting farmers who cannot afford mechanical power (or who can only access it at sub-optimal times).

Policy guidelines for developing DAP include:

Development of savings and credit institutions which will facilitate farmer investment in expensive and "lumpy" draught animals and farm machinery

Funding research and development in DAP. Research should:

o o

be adaptive to the existing concerns, constraints and objectives of farmers (subject to the above) prioritize increasing the supply of DAP (e.g. through better nutrition and use of smaller animals) and decreasing demand (e.g. through better implement design)

o o

be interdisciplinary and participatory in methodology involve, or at least be based on a realistic analysis of, the implement manufacture and distribution industry

Improved extension Extension of DAP presents in acute form the problems of livestock production extension, as messages will be complex and based on research in at least three disciplines (livestock production, crop production and engineering)

Incorporating awareness of DAP into land-use planning and land reform: the grazing requirements of draught animals, or the realistic possibilities of feeding them on farm may be overlooked both in routine land-use planning and in land reform

Fuel pricing: the existence or potential existences of sustainable DAP may be a contributing argument in policy-making on subsidizing fossil fuel use to farmers. Attempts to encourage DAP use may founder if fuel remains subsidized, or if DAP is encouraged mainly for reasons of the national fuel budget, and not of farmers' immediate concerns.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Improved Draught Animal Power Environmental Issues Adoption by farmers of draught animals allows them to improve the productivity of work. This technique has assisted extension of cropped areas caused substituting the soil labour with a simple tool by the ploughing with animals, with all environmental consequences of land clearing. Animal helps transport of wood for kitchen, water for family and animals, crops to storage or market. Introduction of animals in farming system brings beneficial effects of mixed system, but also the risks of conflicts between cropping and livestock raising. Techniques Draught animals are used for diverse objectives :

Soil ploughing with a plough. Sowing. Weeding of crops, cereals, cotton, legumes. Earthing up. Cropping: for example groundnut by rising. Transport: water, wood, crop products, people, commercial goods, etc. Drawing Water from wells.

Positive environmental impact

o o o o o

Manure production by animals in stall. Transport of manure to the field. Control of weeds in crops. Protection and utilization of local animal breeds. Transport of stones to protect river banks.

Negative environmental impact

o o o

Extension of agricultural lands, decrease of pastoral or natural areas. Increase of erosion after a bad use of ploughing. Weeding with implements for draught animals enhances extension of certain weeds (for example Commelina in sudanian countries).

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Context of Application

Favorable factors:
o o

Agriculture none mechanized. Presence of animal breeds adapted to environment and able to be domesticated to draught.

o o o o

Presence of commercial crops helping financing implements of draught. Convenient rural population density, between 10 and 150 inhabitant/km2. Opportunity of credit. Political and institutional conditions: veterinary service or office, adapted extension, help and securization of credit.

Unfavorable factors:
o o o o

Sloppy country. Very heavy soils (clay). Poor health conditions for animals (for example tsetse fly). Insufficient infrastructures and roads.


Utilization of animal traction

2.3.1. Stationary applications of animal power In Egypt there has been a long history of using work animals to raise water for irrigation. The ingenious sakia irrigation wheels appears to have been developed during the Ptolemaic period, about 2200 years ago (Stead 1986). The traditional sakia wheels have internal spirals, allowing them to efficiently raise water that is within two metres of the surface (Lwe 1986). They remain in use in present-day Egypt and may be turned by cows, buffaloes or donkeys or less commonly, horses or camels.

Animals may also be used to pull water from wells. In North Africa, mote systems are employed, where an animal walks down a slope and pulls on the rope attached to a leather water bag. Some motes have self-emptying systems. Descending the slope makes it easier for the animal to raise the water. All types of work animals may be used. Elsewhere, notably in circum-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa, animals are also used to pull water from simple wells. Such systems are

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 most common in pastoral areas, where large numbers of animals must be watered at the same time.

Threshing Lagercrantz (1950) has reviewed the use of animals in Egypt, North Africa and Ethiopia and Northern Somalia for threshing. In this operation, the animals walk round in circles over beans or cereals, separating the husks from the grain. There is a strong geographical distinction between systems using a central tethering post and those which simply make use of random trampling movements. In Egypt, a special threshing sledge, may be pulled by the animals to accelerate the process. Pigs were used for work in Ancient Egypt, both treading and threshing seed in the eighteenth Dynasty, a practice also confirmed by Herodotos (Zeuner 1963:262). The first iconographic evidence for animal threshing is in the Old Kingdom (i.e. prior to 2300 BC) and this use of animal power has continued in Egypt up to the present.

Threshing is a seasonal operation and the species used are those that are readily available because they are maintained for other work. Iconographic evidence from Egypt suggests that donkeys were used in the Old Kingdom and were supplanted by oxen in the New Kingdom. Exceptionally, camels are used to thresh grain in Tunisia. In the Ethiopian highlands, oxen are used to thresh the cereal, tef. In the Ethiopian Rift Valley, a similar technology has more recently been adopted for decorticating maize. Animal threshing occurs in both the Canaries and the Azores, probably as a result of European introductions. It was also brought to South Africa by European settlers, and Lagercrantz (1950:23) reproduces an early eighteenth century engraving of horse-threshing in the Cape Colony. Through the agency of missions, animal threshing spread to Namibia and to the Sotho-speaking areas.

Milling Animal power is used for milling in a band stretching from Somalia to Chad. Oilseeds such as sesame or groundnuts are placed in a large wooden pestle, carved out of the trunk of a large tree. The animal walks around pulling a counter-balanced frame attached to a large wooden mortar. This grinds the seeds, extracting the oil. The animals employed are often oxen but camels may be used in Sudan and Somalia. This grinding technology is pre-colonial but its exact origin is
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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 unknown. The pattern of transfer of this animal-powered grinding technology has not been investigated. Similar mills are found in the Seychelles and on the Indian subcontinent, but they have not spread elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

2.3.2. Animal power for riding and pack transport in sub-Saharan Africa Horses, donkeys, camels and cattle have been used for riding and pack transport in parts of subSaharan Africa for centuries, if not millennia. However, relatively little is known about the history of these applications of animal power. Certain pastoralist groups in the continent, including several in West Africa, ride cattle and use them as pack animals. There are historical observations of fifteenth century European seafarers concerning the Khoi-Khoi of South Africa. These rode cattle and used them for pack transport. Some cattle were trained for use in battles (Burman, 1988; Joubert, 1995).

Several authors, including Muzzolini (1997), have noted that references to donkeys in traditional art (including rock paintings) and literature are surprisingly few in sub-Saharan Africa (including Ethiopian and Arabic sources). This might be because the spread of donkeys was slow and scattered, or it could be because donkeys had low status, compared with horses and camels. Donkeys were used mainly as pack animals (as they are world-wide) although there is little evidence to support this. By the time of recorded European exploration in sub-Saharan Africa, donkeys were used as pack animals in parts of West Africa (Sahelian zone) and East Africa (in some coastal ports and among the Maasai). A Portuguese report of 1758 suggests that the Shona in Zimbabwe were using pack donkeys, and this may have been associated with the gold trade route to and from Sofala in Mozambique (Ellert 1993).

Horses became important for riding and prestige in West African civilizations across a wide zone of Muslim influenced cultures from Senegambia to Sudan. Their high social status meant that they were seldom used for transporting goods. In Eastern and Southern Africa, horses were introduced from ports in the past five hundred years by European settlers and traders. Camels, used for riding, transporting and meat/milk production spread in circum-Saharan countries between 1000 and 3000 years ago, first in the Horn of Africa and later in West-Central Africa. They are shown extensively in late period Saharan rock-paintings, but only as riding animals.
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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Camels have probably been used to pull water from wells since their introduction, but their use for plowing in West Africa is recent (RIM, II 1992).

2.3.3. Animal power for cultivation and wheeled transport in sub-Saharan Africa Ethiopia, together with a few neighboring parts of the Horn of Africa, is exceptional in subSaharan Africa, since farmers have been using animal power for tillage for thousands of years. However, in most sub-Saharan African countries, animal traction for tillage and wheeled transport was introduced during the colonial period. The process of introduction and adaptation is still continuing. There are various factors that may be responsible for the late adoption of plows in sub-Saharan Africa. In much of the continent, different tribal groups have specialized in animal-rearing and in crop production. Thus many crop-growing farmers did not own potential work animals. Moreover, many traditional farming systems have been based on bush-fallow rotations. The bush is cut down and burned, and seeds or tubers planted in the cleared area. There is no need to till the land with a plow. In any case this would be difficult since the soil is full of roots. Seeds can be scattered or planted in small pockets, for which a simple digging implement is appropriate. In farming systems with long periods of bush fallow, weeds do not present major problems.

Provided the fallow periods are long, such systems can be quite productive in terms of yield per unit of human labour. It is only when human population pressures necessitate short fallow periods that it becomes justified to clear the land of roots and stumps and to plow. Thus, in much of sub-Saharan Africa, the necessary social, environmental and agricultural conditions to favour the use of plows have not really existed. Indeed, there are still parts of Africa where the plow is not really economically justified. The failure of animal traction to spread into some semi-humid areas in recent decades, is partly explained by the lack of the appropriate preconditions . Another important constraint on the spread of the plow in pre-colonial times was the presence of tsetse flies and trypanosomiasis in virtually all lowland areas. The relatively low human populations that obtained almost everywhere in Africa meant that hunting pressure on wild animal vectors was insufficient to eliminate reservoirs of trypanosomiases. Pastoral cattle that can survive when well-fed or moved regularly by expert herders have a much accelerated death
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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 rate from disease when subjected to work-stress (Blench 1987). It is possible that both wheeled vehicles and plows were introduced experimentally in prehistory, but failed due to disease constraints. Increased human population in the colonial era following improved health-care both allowed major clearance of regions of bush and eliminated large populations of tsetse vectors. This helped to make animal traction a viable proposition in many areas.


Animal traction training

Training animals Training animals for traction involves an understanding between the trainer (yourself) and the animals. The animals need to trust you. For that we need to be patient and reward them for good behavior. Reasons for Training Animals Note: In order to train animals, a trainer must follow some principles to achieve good results during the whole exercise. The reason for this is that cattle are not used to work unless they know the training steps. Trained animals can do more work in a shorter time. Trained animals hear and accept commands (voice commands). Trained animals pull better, like a team with well-coordinated movements. They are easier to control. They are able to pull heavy loads for longer periods.

Seven Principles to Consider When Training: 1. The approach must be simple, calm, patient, persistent, and the trainer needs to be firm (not to show fear to the animal). 2. There should always be a routine and a repetition of the training steps, so that the animal adopts the new behavior. 3. Spoken commands and names should be few and simple such as: Go, Turn left, Turn right, Reverse or Stop. Remember to always use the same language during and after the training.
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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 4. Train either early in the morning or late in the evening so as to avoid the heat of the day. 5. Reward the animal for any positive behaviour, then correct bad behaviour immediately and don't reward. Rewarding the animal includes; patting on back, calling the animal's name, grooming him or giving some food. 6. Complete every step in the training programme before moving to the next one. Do not move to the next step, unless the animals have understood the one before. 7. To carry out the training you need the following items: a trained animal, a proper kraal, a good pegged training field and tools (ropes, different types of yokes, ploughs, weeders, loads and sledges).

Training stages: STEP 1: Roping and Walking The purpose here is for the trainer to get used to the new animal, to create friendly conditions and to remove fears/suspicions from the animals.

You should tie the oxen with ropes and make them walk in circles without yokes. To tie you can use halters or nose punched animals (as explained below). Each time you train, you reduce the rope that separates you from the animal, so that you come closer to it and this one keeps on gaining trust in you.

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These exercises take 2-4 hours per day for 2-3 days The animal should learn to accept commands, so by the end of this step the animal should be able to go left or right, to stop or start and even to go backwards following the voice commands. This step ends when a trainer is able to move closer to the animal, to put a rope around the neck, name the animals, make them walk or move and stop using simple commands.

How to tie your animals 1. Make a simple halter A simple halter for the animals can be a rope with two knots, as shown below or as on the side drawing. Place the central loop on the mouth of the animal and tie the strings behind the ears. Always place the rope underneath the ears and tie it behind, otherwise the rope will be over the eyes and will disturb the animal.

2. Use a nose-punched animal

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STEP 2: Harnessing and Walking the Animals In this step, harnessing or yoking is done in the kraal. After that, the animals are moved to the field. The objective here is for the animals being trained are able to accept harnessing and removal of the harness while they are outside the kraal. If a trained animal is there, use it to train the new one, so that they learn to move in pairs. By the end of this step, the pair of animals should be able to move forward, stop, turn left, turn right and eventually turn and walk back using voice commands e.g. go, stop, turn-left, turn-right, about-turn, etc.

The items used here include a yoke, ropes, a kraal, a training field and trained animal.

These exercises should take 3-4hours per day for 7-10 days

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STEP 3: Pulling Loads The purpose is to train the muscles of the animals and for them to gain strength to pull heavy loads. During this step, varying loads are introduced from 20, 30, 40, 50 kg /log.

These exercises are done in the field, 2 hours per day, for 7-14 days. Note: Frequent rest should be allowed for the animals on training STEP 4: Pulling Implements Implements such as ploughs, weeders, harrows, planters, etc, are introduced in this step.

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This can be done for 3-4 hours per day for 3 days.

Training animals to weed Training animals to weed or to pull a weeder between rows can be started on step 3 of the training exercises explained before. This involves the following: Field selection and pegging: Select a well-tilled, smooth field for training your animals and cut stakes (pegs) around 1.5 ft (45cm) long. Arrange the pegs in rows to simulate the rows of crops. They should be firmly inserted such that they do not fall when knocked by the animals. Use a planting rope to make certain the pegs are on a straight line. Always measure the same distance between the rows of pegs, as you would do when planting.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Measure the distance between the first two rows and then cut a piece of wood of that size. Like this you will be certain that all the rows have the same width. This will be important later on, so as not to have to re-adjust the weeder.

Walking the animals between rows: The yoked animals can then be led to walk between the rows of the pegs. You can use the ploughing yoke to teach them how to walk between the rows of pegs. (Like in the drawing). As the animals keep knocking their hooves against the pegs, they will feel the effect and learn to walk straight, between the rows, without stepping on the pegs. The drawing shows a pair of oxen joined by a ploughing yoke. The same idea applies with a weeding yoke.

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This exercise takes 2-3 hours per day for about 1 week.

Pulling implements between rows: Once the animals have got used to walking between the pegs, varying weights of 20, 30, 40 and 50 kg respectively can be introduced for them to pull along the rows. Later, the implement (weeder) can be introduced

This exercise takes 2-3 hours per day for 1 week.

YOKE MAKING 1. Selecting the yoke pole

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The chosen pole should be strong, straight and free from too many knots. The poles length should be longer than the required length of the yoke to be made. 2. Seasoning the timber The yoke can be seasoned in order to make it stronger or to increase its durability. This is done by: Placing the yoke into a water-bath, then leaving it to stay there for at least 1 week. Alternatively, the yoke can be buried in the ground or covered with manure taken from the animal shed, for at-least 2 weeks. After the yoke has been subjected to any of these treatments, place it in a shaded place and allow it to dry slowly. 3. Drying The pole should be well dried before making the yoke, but if time is limited, the bark of the pole can be peeled off or, the wet pole can be lightly burnt and the bark removed by hammering to enhance drying.

4. Shaping The pole is then shaped well and smoothed, removing any knots to avoid injuries to the animal's skin and reducing the diameter to about 8 cm.

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5. Cutting the pole to the correct dimensions. Ploughing yoke Draw a centre line along the length of the pole and put a mark in the middle. From the centre, measure 45 cm to either side. These two marks will exactly be over the animals shoulders. The distance between them is known as the "yoke length". So the actual full length of the yoke will be longer than this yoke length.

Weeding yoke Yoke length There are two ways to measure the yoke length of the weeding yoke: 1. Place the yoke in front of your planted crops, and draw the exact point where the animals should be. The distance between the two lines is the yoke length. As shown in the drawing 2. The yoke length should be twice the distance between your crop rows. So from the centre of one animal to the centre of the other there will be a distance of two planting rows.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 As shown in the picture, check that A = B, or that, the yoke length is twice the crop inter-row distance.

So there is not a standard size for a weeding yoke, it depends on your crop spacing

Weeding yoke Full length

Now that we know the yoke length, we need to calculate the full length of the yoke. So we start by calculating the space for the neck of the oxen; it should be 10" or 25 cm but to make it easier, we can calculate with our hands together, thumbs touching, a shown in the drawing: So it is 10" (25 cm) from the middle of the animal to the end of the yoke.

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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 That makes the total length of the yoke 20" (50cm) longer than the yoke length.

Exercise 2 a. Ask the farmers to calculate the yoke length and the full length of the weeding yoke, if they planted the crops at a distance of 65 cm between each row. b. What about if the crops are at a distance of 90 cm? c. If they have a weeding yoke with a full length of 1.30 metres. What would be the distance they need to plant their crops in order to use the yoke?

Making the holes The holes can be made locally with chisel a hammer or with an auger

MOUTH CAPS (like fish net)

The mouth cap or muzzle is very important when we are using animal traction for weeding. If you fail to put one on the oxen, they will stop pulling and will instead start enjoying eating the crops! It can be made locally using sisal string. Place it over the mouth of the animal and tie the strings behind the ears, passing the string underneath them.


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Chapter 2: Draught animal power and traction 2012 Do not tie them only behind the horns as the strings will pass over the eyes and disturb the animal

Exercise 3 Show the following drawing to the participants and ask them to point out all the problems. What should have the farmer done?

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