This week the South African government took over a farm under a controversial new policy of taking back unproductive previously allocated to blacks as part of a land redistribution program.

A week ago the use it or lose it initiative was announced by Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana for farms which the black beneficiaries have left idle.

Xingwana said the ostrich farm in Hammanskraal, north of the capital Pretoria, was repossessed following demeaning reports regarding the poor conditions of the ostriches, Reuters reported.

The farm was previously leased to a cooperative since 2007 but the new farmers failed to run it productively, she said.

Since the cooperatives take over two years ago, the conditions have deteriorated and the original number of 77 ostriches has now shrunk to 57.

According to reports several birds were limping and were in a chronic condition that did not respond to medication ultimately impacting their fertility levels.

The government’s repossession has left many farmers with mixed feelings.

President of the National African Farmers Union, an organization representing new black farmers, agreed that the 'use it or lose it' is a good idea and it ensured people would continue farming.

The redistribution programme is part of a government plan developed after the end of apartheid in 1994 to hand 30 percent of all agricultural land to the black majority by 2014.