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Zambezi Region’s cattle deaths linked to drought and lack of vaccination, deworming

Zambezi Region’s cattle deaths linked to drought and lack of vaccination, deworming

Staff Reporter

THE Agriculture Ministry’s Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) revealed that drought, as well as a failure to vaccinate and deworm livestock, were identified as the primary reasons for the mass deaths of cattle in the Zambezi Region last year.

This was disclosed by the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Albertina Shilongo, who stated that most cattle deaths in the Zambezi Region occurred during the months when grazing was very poor due to drought. She also highlighted that about 80% of the affected farmers failed to vaccinate or deworm their cattle.

This comes after senior officials from the DVS carried out an investigation in October 2023 in response to high mortalities of cattle in the Zambezi Region, which occurred between June 2023 and November 2023 in the Kabe South Constituency. Shilongo disclosed that the investigative team visited 23 highly impacted cattle posts spanning 12 crush-pen areas.

Picture for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Land Reform

“The team collected past and current animal health information such as clinical signs observed, number of cattle deaths, movement history, vaccination status, and usage of livestock medication and feed supplements from farmers and herders. The team further investigated the animal body conditions and grazing conditions of the affected areas,” Shilongo revealed.

Shilongo reported that by the end of October 2023, 585 cattle had perished across the 23 homesteads visited. Furthermore, she highlighted that over 80% of the cattle observed in these areas were in poor physical condition, and grazing pastures remained inadequate.

“Most cattle deaths occurred during the months when grazing was very poor and in cattle with poor body conditions, thus concluding that most animals died from drought,” Shilongo explained.

Shilongo further revealed that the team conducted post-mortem examinations on some cattle that died during the week of the investigation and found lesions of liver fluke and heartwater among others, which are common diseases responsible for cattle deaths in the region. Other cattle deaths, she added, were associated with diseases such as Pasteurellosis, Black Quarter, and worm infestations.

Besides 80% of affected farmers failing to vaccinate and deworm their livestock, Shilongo revealed that it was also discovered that 75% of the affected farmers did not give their cattle the necessary feed supplements, which are essential during the dry period.

In response to these findings, Shilongo urged farmers to prioritize annual vaccination, regular deworming, and tick control practices for their cattle, especially during drought periods.

She also revealed that, in response to the findings of the investigation, the agriculture ministry also decided to offer free services and procured different drugs and remedies to assist farmers at a cost of N$2,801,975.00. The procurement of drugs, she revealed, included vaccines against Anthrax, Botulism, and Black Quarter as well as multi-minerals, vitamins, dewormers, and some antibiotics.

“DVS officials in the Zambezi Region vaccinated 89,152 cattle against Anthrax, Botulism and Black quarter out of 90 000, which is 99% of the targeted population in the eastern part of Zambezi Region. De-wormers and multi-minerals have been reserved for use at a later stage and are to be given together with Pasteurella vaccine that is yet to be purchased,” Shilongo said.

She also revealed that farmers’ training was conducted from August to December 2023 at 12 various places in the Zambezi Region to create awareness and empower farmers on how to properly institute herd health programs.

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