National beef, dairy cattle herd increases

THE national beef herd grew by two percent last year, and that of dairy cattle by 11.3 percent, due to good rains, and a reduction in mortality rates, the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, has said.

In a report, the ministry said the national beef herd now stood at 5 642 400, up from 5 509 983 in 2021, with Masvingo province having the biggest number at 995 069, followed by Midlands province at 956 891.

“Grazing conditions and availability was generally fair to good at the time of assessment due to good rains received across the country. Livestock condition was generally good for all ruminant species across all farming sectors and this is attributed to improved grazing condition and grazing availability,” the Ministry said.

“Water for livestock was adequate and the trekking distance to drinking water source was less than one kilometre.” On the other hand, the dairy herd grew from 47 845 in 2021 to 53 250 last year, of which 35 100 was was the milking herd.

The milking herd increased from 31 524 in 2021. A total of 1 979 farmers benefi ted from forage input packs under the Presidential Silage programme for the smallholder dairy farming sector.

“This has resulted in a steady increase in annual milk production. The milking herd grew to 35 100 cows (Milking and dry cows) producing 91.4 million litres of milk,” said the Ministry.

It said the number of registered dairy entities increased from 238 in 2021 to 244 last year. Meanwhile, the Ministry said cattle mortality rates decreased by three percentage points from nine percent in 2021 to six percent in 2022.

“Different animal diseases were the major causes of beef cattle mortalities, accounting for 83% of deaths from sampled beef cattle owners,” it said. In the year, the government increased animal health management support to farmers, including control of tick-borne diseases in hotspot areas, and dipping. For example, a total of 766 334 livestock owners benefi ted from tick grease supply from the government. — New Ziana

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