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«Draught Animal Harnessing Draught Animal Harnessing -1Draught Animal Harnessing -2ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This guide results from a collaborative effort ...»

A Guide for

Farmers on Good Land Husbandry

Draught Animal Harnessing

Draught Animal Harnessing -1Draught Animal Harnessing -2ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This guide results from a collaborative effort based on the work and contributions from the following institutions and individuals:

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) : Mrs V. Mandishona (Chief Education and Training Officer); Mr P.

Zakariya (Training Officer); Mr J. Chimwanda (Masvingo Provincial Farmer Organiser); Mr P. Mushure (Masvingo ZFU Provincial Committee Member and Communal Farmer); Mr N. Ramwidzai (ZFU member and farmer from Sanyati Communal Area); Mr Mbayo (District Officer – Murewa); Mrs Zenu (Murewa District Training Officer); ZFU Farmers Groups in Murewa and Zimuto Communal Areas Department for Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) Engineering Branch, Institute of Agricultural Engineering: Mr I. Chatizwa (Researcher);

Ms B. Mudamburi (Training Officer Draught Animal Power) Soil and Water Conservation Branch, Institute of Agricultural Engineering: Mr I. Nyagumbo (Senior Soil and Water Conservation Specialist); Mr. M. Munyati (Senior Soil and Water Conservation Specialist) Masvingo Province: Mr. N. Rufu (Senior Agronomist and Crop Production Specialist) Agritex/GTX Contill Project Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDEP): Dr M. Leupold (Team Leader); Mr. M.

Connolly (Advisor to Agritex Masvingo); Mr R. Shuva (Graphic Artist) Department for Research and Specialist Services (DRSS) Agronomy Institute: Mr. S. Mabasa (Head of Weed Research Team); Mr. H. Dhliwayo (Principal Research Officer, Crop Production Unit, Makoholi Experiment Station); Mr T. Gatsi (Economist); Mr S Nyahunzvi (Weed Research Team); Mr. V Zaravashe (Crop Production Unit, Makoholi Experiment Station); Mr C. Madzima (Crop Production Unit, Makoholi Experiment Station) Cotton Research Institute: Mr TT Mashavira (Principal Cotton Research Agronomist); Mr. D. Musambari (Cotton Agronomist, Cotton Research Institute) Lowveld Research Station: Mr I. Mharapara (Head); Mr E. Mazhangara (Principal Economics Research Officer); Mr. F. Mugabe (Soil Physicist) Institute Of Environmental Studies (IES), University of Zimbabwe: Mr Edward Chuma Cotton Training Centre (CTC)– Kadoma: Mr. G. Rabey (Director) and his staff CARE – Masvingo: Mr. G. Tobaiwa (Assistant Project Manager, CARE Small Dams Project); Mr C.

Mazhata (Senior Field Officer); Mr C. Gumbo (Field Officer); Ms K. Chamba (Field Officer); Mr. C.

Chikomba (Field Officer) Intermediate Technology Development Group Zimbabwe (ITDG): Mr K. Murwira (Programme Manager, Agricultural Programme) Silsoe Research Institute: Dr S. Twomlow (Soil and Water Specialist); Mr J. Ellis-Jones (Economist); Dr J.

Hagmann (Participatory Extension Specialist); Mr. Soren Dreyer (Soil Conservationist); Mr S. Briggs (Agricultural Engineer); Mr F.B. van der Meer (Soil Scientist) Natural Resources Institute (NRI) : Dr C. Riches (Weed Scientist) Swedish Co-operative Centre : Ms M. Brdarski Out Reach Programme- Hinton Estates: Mr A. Norton; Mr. B. Oldrieve The contributors wish to thank the United Kingdoms’ Department for International Development (DFID) Natural Resources Systems Programme, Semi-Arid System for the funds that helped produce this material, the logistical, technical and material support provided by IRDEP/GTZ Masvingo and the support from the Deputy Directors of Agritex Mr E. Danda and Mr R. Chitsiko.

Draught Animal Harnessing -3DRAUGHT ANIMAL HARNESSING

1. INTRODUCTION Cattle and donkeys are kept by farmers for many reasons. One of the most important is to provide draught power. They are kept for ploughing, weeding, transporting seed and fertiliser to the farm, manure to the lands and crops to the market.

The efficient use of draught animal power depends upon the harnessing device, and how well trained and fed the animals are. We have all seen poorly trained animals causing problems when ploughing, or poorly harnessed donkeys with blood running from wounds caused by the traces.

Such problems not only stress the animals and reduce the quality of their work, they also stress the owners. Well trained, well harnessed animals respond to commands, work well and get tired less with little effort from the owner.

The harnessing device is very important as it transfers the power from the animal to the implement, and is more efficient if effort the animal uses results in more power and less tiredness. Optimum draught power is only obtained through an efficient transmission of the animals effort. Such performance can only be obtained by using the correct Yokes or Harnesses for the task.

#You should NOT use a Yoke on a donkey, as donkeys are built differently to Cattle.

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Draught Animal Harnessing -4The following sections describe different types of yokes and harnesses that you can easily make and use, to make sure you get the best from your draught animals


3. Types of Yokes There are two main types of neck yoke that can be used with draught cattle, these are the traditional double neck yoke, which most people use in Zimbabwe and a single neck yoke.

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types of yoke link the animals to the #Both implement to be pulled.

Yokes should only be used on cattle, #However, and NOT on donkeys!

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Draught Animal Harnessing -5Double clamp yoke The double clamp yoke is commonly used because most jobs require the combined power of at least two animals.

Below is a diagram showing a complete double clamp yoke with all of

the parts:

How many can you name?

Do you know what each part does?

Have a competition with other farmers to see who can name all of the parts!

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The distance between the pair of skeis is measured from the centre of one pair to the centre of the other pair. The distance between the skeis

is determined by the following things :

#The trek chain should be kept at least 30 cm (12 inches) from the bellies of the two draught animals to prevent rubbing #The width of the bellies of the cattle #The required position of the cattle for the job

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#The length of yoke means that the oxen must always walk between the planting lines whether at planting or seedbed preparation.

# If the wrong size yoke is used the oxen can walk along the planting lines and compact the soil surface. This can prevent emergence, reduce infiltration, increase runoff and the risk of erosion.

–  –  –

10. Training Animals to work together Draught Animal Harnessing -9Single neck Yoke The single neck yoke is used on a single Ox or Cow when light cultivation equipment is to be used or a small cart.

# This is a typical single neck yoke with it’s sizes shown.

# Straight skeis can also be used as for the double yokes.

#Cultivating between rows of tall maize Draught Animal Harnessing -10HARNESSING DONKEYS Never use a yoke on a donkey, as donkeys pull from the chest. A yoke is intended for Oxen and Cows, as they pull from the neck and withers.

A yoke on a donkey is very inefficient. The donkey will work hard and not perform well, and both the farmer and the donkey will become tired very quickly.

A yoke like this should NEVER be used on a donkey

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#To get the best from your donkeys use specially designed harnesses to get the most power from the breast to the implement.

Recent work in Zimbabwe showed that properly harnessed donkeys can work as well as oxen.

#Farmers in Botswana use well harnessed teams of 8 to 12 donkeys to plough heavy soils to 30 cm depth.

#A poorly harnessed donkey means you are robbing yourself of your potential draught power. Nobody steals from themselves!

#Two types of harness are commonly used in Zimbabwe, the short breast band (traditional) harness for light work and the collar harness for heavier work. They are described below.

Draught Animal Harnessing -11Breast Band Harness All breast band harnesses have the same basic design and are made in almost the same way.

14.The Traditional Breast Band Harness # The traditional or short breast band harness is used throughout Zimbabwe.

#It is only suitable for doing light work

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Draught Animal Harnessing -12The Long Breast Band Harness The long breast band harness can be used for a wide variety of operations


No easy adjustment.

Padding of breast straps necessary. Make sure bolt ends are always kept away from the donkeys body

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Draught Animal Harnessing -14Wooden Heim Collar Harness # Wooden Heim Collar Harness parts # Wooden Heim Collar Harness on a donkey

–  –  –

Did you know there are courses on how to make harnesses?

# # Ask your extension work for details of how you can get involved.


An animal wearing a collar or a breast band needs a special system to convey its power back to the implement. Ropes or chains are attached to the sides of the harness and connected to a bar located behind the animal. The bar is a piece of wood with rings or grooves that hold the ropes or chains. The bar is called a SINGLE TREE.

The single tree has a ring in the centre which is connected to the implement by a hook with a short piece of trek chain.

When an animal walks, each shoulder moves slightly forward with alternating steps. The single tree swings with the shoulder movement and prevents the breast strap or collar rubbing sores on the animal. This mean the donkeys are more comfortable and they can work harder and for longer.

Draught Animal Harnessing -16Double tree for use with two animals When two animals are being used together then their individual single trees are connected to a double tree. This allows the driver to adjust the amount of pull from each animal by shortening or lengthening the traces.

# Double and single trees # Evening the pair with a single tree adjustment

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Titles in Series ·Introduction to Good Land Husbandry ·Soil and Water Management ·Soil Fertility ·Primary Tillage and Land Preparation ·What is Important for Good Crop Establishment ·Planting Option 1 – Hand Planting ·Planting Option 2 – Traditional Third Furrow Planting ·Planting Option 3 – Open Plough Furrow Planting ·Planting Option 4 – Ripper Planting ·Weed Management ·Conservation Tillage Option 1 – No Till Tied Ridging ·Conservation Tillage Option 2 – Low Input Tillage and Weeding ·Alternative Soil and water Conservation Ideas ·Draught Animal Harnessing ·Tillage Implements

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