Cat­tle poverty deaths go up

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THE pro­longed dry spell pre­vail­ing in the coun­try has cul­mi­nated in a num­ber of farm­ers in the drought-prone Mata­bele­land re­gion los­ing their cat­tle due to de­pleted pas­tures.

Al­though of­fi­cial statis­tics of the cat­tle that have died due to poverty could not be im­me­di­ately ob­tained, Mata­bele­land South pro­vin­cial crops and live­stock of­fi­cer Mrs Si­man­galiphi Ng­wabi said a sub­stan­tial num­ber of cat­tle in all the dis­tricts in the prov­ince had suc­cumbed due to lack of ad­e­quate pas­tures with most of the an­i­mals be­ing in bad con­di­tion.

“I don’t have of­fi­cial stat­ics of the cat­tle that have died due to poverty, but the sit­u­a­tion is very bad. We are in the process of com­pil­ing data to come up with an of­fi­cial po­si­tion to as­cer­tain how many cat­tle have died. Over the past few weeks I was in­volved in the land au­dit process and was mov­ing around the prov­ince that’s when I man­aged to re­alise that the sit­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially in Mangwe was be­com­ing dire as most of the cat­tle were in bad shape while oth­ers had died due to lack of pas­tures,” she said.

The sear­ing heat has not only led to sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pacts on for­age but cul­mi­nated in wa­ter sources dry­ing up.

Wa­ter is the most im­por­tant nutri­ent for cat­tle. It ac­counts for 50 to 80 per­cent of an an­i­mal’s weight and is in­volved in ev­ery phys­i­o­log­i­cal process. Mrs Ng­wabi said the num­ber of cat­tle deaths could in­crease if suf­fi­cient rains are not re­ceived as soon as pos­si­ble.

“In the past farm­ers used to rely on com­mer­cial feed for sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing but cur­rently there is short­age of stock feed at most re­tail out­lets and in some cases the prices are ex­or­bi­tant and as such most farm­ers can’t af­ford to buy enough to feed their an­i­mals,” she said.

Depart­ment of Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices Mata­bele­land North pro­vin­cial of­fi­cer Dr Polex Moyo also con­firmed that a num­ber of cat­tle in his area of ju­ris­dic­tion had died due to poverty but could not also pro­vide fig­ures.

“We have recorded a num­ber of poverty death cases but we are still in the process of com­pil­ing statis­tics to find out how many cat­tle have died and hope­ful by Wed­nes­day we will have of­fi­cial stat­ics,” he said.

Dr Moyo said farm­ers should in­tro­duce their cat­tle to sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing regime to guard against los­ing their an­i­mals due to the ef­fects of drought.

“We are, how­ever, en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to sup­ple­ment, there is no two ways about it. It’s high time they in­tro­duce their an­i­mals to both sur­vival and pen fat­ten­ing feed so as to im­prove their con­di­tion. They should, how­ever, avoid us­ing feed mixed with urea be­cause in the event the feed gets damp the urea tends to turn into a lump and when an an­i­mal con­sumes it, it dies. They should feed their an­i­mals with stock­feed made out of cot­ton and sun­flower cake or seed,” he said.

Dr Moyo, how­ever, lamented the price of stock feed stat­ing that: “It’s be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to source the feed as the prices are on the awk­ward side and this might have cat­a­strophic ef­fects on live­stock pro­duc­tion.”

Mata­bele­land re­gion used to be the coun­try’s prime cat­tle pro­duc­ing area but re­cur­rent droughts since 1992 re­port­edly killed about 60 per­cent of the prov­inces’ herd.

@DNsingo

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