Livestock need investment
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CTA. 2003. Livestock need investment. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/04. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57232
A Chief Veterinary Officer at the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture talks about the importance of preventative health care, and the value of investing in the health of young animals
Cue: Rearing livestock for meat and milk production, or for sale, is often recommended as a way for poor families to escape from poverty. This may be true, but profitable livestock production is not free of cost. In fact, if livestock are to be healthy and productive they need investment, investment of time, resources and money. Dominic Minyoi is a Chief Veterinary Officer working for the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. He recently spoke to Chris Kakunta about the importance of investment, and why the first priority for livestock farmers is to invest in the health of their new born animals, such as calves and lambs. Allowing a new born animal to feed on its mother?s milk is an extremely important first investment, as it helps to protect the animal against prevailing diseases. IN: ?Once a calf is born ? OUT: ?too late for anybody to intervene.? DUR?N 4?16?? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Dominic Minyoi with advice for livestock keepers on the importance of investing in their animals. Transcript Minyoi Once a calf is born it must be exposed to colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk that comes from the mother. Within 24 hours of birth that calf should be made to suckle with that one. It gives it all the protection because colostrum carries all the necessary antibodies to protect the calf against the prevailing diseases that are in that area. And also apart from that, most farmers you find they don?t really let the calf suckle. So from birth the calf should be let to suckle until they are satisfied, that?s when the farmers can get the milk. We do know that they rely on this milk as well but the calf needs it more for growth. And as the calf grows up they must at least organise the pasture, even from crop residues. They can put those in the kraal, whatever stover, maize stover that is left, whatever from the groundnuts and beans that can be fed to the animals during the dry season when the feed is inadequate. And it is important at this point in time that they must de-worm at least twice per year. This is before the rains and after the rains so that when the rains have come in and the grass is mushrooming, the calves have got access to grass; they can put on weight because they won?t have a worm burden. Vaccination is very very important in certain age groups. They can do that for anthrax, they can do that for all the other preventable diseases. Kakunta Your emphasis has been on the calf. Are you saying when you look after a calf properly, you are guaranteeing that the future animals will be healthy? Minyoi Definitely, once you start looking after a calf very well that calf will grow into a strong adult. And that strong adult can only be strong if it is also exposed to certain interventions like vaccinations, de-worming, good housing, provision of water, all those are things that should be made available to the animals. In the village set up they can even use troughs, these dug-out canoes; put water in there. The animals will have access to water whenever they feel like drinking water. Not where as of now, they graze somewhere else, they are taken for water somewhere else, and by the time they come back to the kraal they are really thirsty. So we should make these things available to the livestock for them to be able to live within the surroundings instead of venturing out where they might contract a disease through mixing with other cattle. Kakunta There are certain situations here in Zambia, Dr Minyoi, for instance in the southern part of the country, where we have East Coast Fever, commonly known as Corridor Disease. We are finding that the small-scale farmers? animals are dying, while in the same area the commercial farmers? animals are still healthy. What practical lessons have you learned from such a scenario? Minyoi What it is, is that to prevent tick-borne diseases, one must dip the animals. And communal dip tanks are there, they exist, but these people are not co-operating, to be able to come together so that they can have their animals dipped. People should be able to invest a bit in livestock, so that they can buy the dip chemicals. And they can approach our officers, our officers can assist them in prescribing what kind of chemicals to buy. They should be doing that twice a month in the rainy season, and once every month in the dry season. Because if they dip regularly, then Corridor Disease will be something that they will hear about but not really their concern. Kakunta But why do you think the farmers are so reluctant in terms of preventative measures? Does it mean there is a problem somewhere in terms of attitudes? Minyoi I can attribute this partly to poor extension services. If the extension was good, farmers would have been taught how to look after animals, and then everybody would be taken on board. But what it is now, is that sometimes our extension is failing to reach the people. But where it is reaching some people don?t want to spend, they won?t invest in livestock. Livestock is a business just like any other business, they have to invest. And above all, they should attend to their regular requirements in as far as their health is concerned. Because these animals are just left to herdsmen, and when herdsmen come there is no request for a report. They should also keep their records so that these herdsmen are held accountable. Because what is happening, farmers don?t even know how the animals are, they are just told ?The animal is dead.? And you can not run a business like that. They must be part and parcel of that livestock-rearing group. They must be able to monitor the animals and see how they are getting on, so that they can report on time. Reporting condition on time, or reporting a situation on time gets one better results than reporting late, because when you report late it may be too late for anybody to intervene. End of track.