National beef cattle herd declines

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Mugove Tafirenyika

THE national cattle herd decreased by 5,7 percent from 5 774 525 in 2018 to 5 489 364 in 2019, after the average national cattle mortality rate increased from 5 percent in 2018 to 9 percent in 2019, the Daily News reports.

According to the country’s Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report for the 2019/2020 season done by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, the national calving rates range from 34 percent in communal areas to 46 percent in the large-scale commercial sector against a national target of 60 percent.

This comes as the report also found out that grazing availability remains critical in some districts of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, southern districts of Midlands and Masvingo where it is expected to last up to next month.

It also noted that dipping was generally inadequate at the time of the second round livestock assessment as a result of insufficient supplies of dipping chemicals.

The decreases in cattle numbers were attributed to deaths caused by tick-borne diseases and drought.
A total of 66 088 cattle succumbed to drought with Masvingo and Matabeleland South being the worst affected provinces.

Diseases contributed 44 percent to cattle deaths followed by drought 40 percent, predators eight percent, injury percent and the remaining three percent were other causes.

In terms of livestock sales, the open market and abattoirs are the major market types for live cattle, sheep and goat sales.

“Regulated livestock markets, which offer better returns, are mainly limited to Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces. The number of beef cattle slaughtered at registered abattoirs decreased by 12 percent from 266 220 in 2018 to 235 018 in 2019. The average national off-take rate for cattle is six percent whilst off-take for sheep and goats is 9 percent and 11 percent respectively, against an expected target of 15 percent,” the ministry found.

It also reported that total milk production rose by six percent from 75 422 158 litres in 2018 to 79 896 215 litres in 2019.

On the other hand, a total of 74 million-day old broiler chicks were produced in 2019, representing a 19 percent decline compared to the 91 million chicks produced in 2018.

“An estimated 24 percent increase in table egg production was recorded in 2019 (50,4 million dozens) compared to 36,4 million dozens the previous year. Pig slaughters at abattoirs increased by 11 percent to 192 747 in 2019 from 173 694 in 2018. High stock feed prices are affecting enterprise viability,” the report reads.

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