Friday, May 29, 2009

(HERALD) Government in bid to boost national herd

Government in bid to boost national herd
Business Reporter

The Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services has introduced programmes aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of cattle across the country. The national herd currently stands at 5,1 million and the number is expected to increase as a result of the programmes. The department’s principal director, Dr Stuart Hargreaves said the Government was putting a lot of effort to increase the quality and number of pedigree cattle.

"Another smaller project is a farmer to farmer programme whereby commercial farmers are assisting communal farmers breed pedigree cattle and this is being done in Bikita, Triangle and Mwenezi areas," said Dr Hargreaves.

He added that there had been a decrease in the number of pedigree breeders for the past few years but the situation was bound to improve.

There are 48 registered pedigree breeders in the country with 6 000 pedigree cattle.

This programme is important because pedigree cattle from he seedstock for improved pure breeds, which will result in the production of ‘true to type animals’.

Dr Hargreaves said his department was also involved in the rehabilitation of dip tanks to improve the services especially in the region 4 and 5.

"This is an ongoing programme and we have received assistance from Help Germany and the European Union are assisting the programmes," said Dr Hargreaves.

The department of livestock and veterinary services administers 4 000 dip tanks countrywide.

Meanwhile the condition of all classes of livestock across the country is satisfactory due to adequate grazing in most farming sectors except in some communal areas.

Overgrazing especially in communal areas has resulted in poor grazing.

Recent crop and livestock assessment report revealed that there were districts where herbage quantity would not be able to last until the onset of the next season due to patchy rains received in areas such as Binga, Tsholotsho and the Zambezi Valley.

Although stockfeeds were readily available on the market, their prices were too high for some farmers.

Generally there is adequate water available for livestock from rivers, streams, dams, weirs and boreholes. However water availability will be a challenge in drier areas after winter.

Dipping frequency is still erratic in most districts and this has resulted in high incidence of ticks and tickborne diseases.

Tickborne diseases such as Redwater and gall sickness still remain a challenge to most farmers while common wet season diseases such as Lumpy Skin were reporter in most districts.

Farmers were not affording drugs and chemicals to vaccinate their livestock. Coccidiosis and Newcastle were indicated as major diseases affecting poultry. Cattle sales have decreasing because of the early harvesting of summer crops. Previously, farmers were selling their livestock and this was observed mostly in the communal areas.

Indications are that the livestock sales were mainly done through barter trade where livestock was being exchanged grain. Due to early harvesting of maize, the barter trade cases have reduced since some farmers now prefer cash sales to cater for their daily incidentals.

Prices for cattle range from US$120 500 per beast while goats are ranging from US$ 740, prices of sheep are generally higher than those of goats.

Prices of livestock are reportedly generally high in the southern provinces compared to northern areas due to demand and differences in quality of livestock.

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