Implementation of sound animal health management bears fruits

By Kenias Chivuzhe

ZIMBABWE has made great strides in animal health management that has seen cattle deaths declining by 47 percent.

The practice has also seen an increase in the national herd from 4.4 million to 5.5 million.

In an interview with ZBC News on the sidelines of an Animal Health and Tick-borne Legislative Control Review seminar in Nyanga this Monday, Department of Veterinary Services chief director, Dr Josphat Nyika revealed that cattle deaths due to tick-borne diseases which reached the peak between 2014 and 2020 dropped by 47 percent last year after government intervention.

“We have had cattle dying from January disease and this is a tick-borne disease. This is why as government we have embarked on a very strict dipping regime and increase the supply of tick grease. Last year alone, we had a reduction of 47 percent of death from the scourge of tick-borne disease. This year, we have not completed the figures but we have reduced further the death due to tick borne diseases. We had almost one percent growth in the national cattle herd from 5,4 to 5.5 million and this is due to improved livestock management,” he said.

Livestock and Meat Advisory Council administrator, Dr Chrispen Sukume highlighted the importance of giving more attention to preventive measures and investment towards local production of vaccines.

“In the past three years, the disease has moved from the Lowveld to the main grain-producing areas in Mashonaland provinces. It is important that we invest in the supply of acaricides in order for us to cover all the small holder farmers. We need to look at how we are going to policy those who abscond from dipping their cattle, we need to ensure that there is compliance on the dipping requirements to stem the spread of tick-borne diseases. There is also need to focus on prevention and promote the development of vaccines,” said Dr Sukume.

UNDP Programme Specialist under the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund, Dr Solomon Mutambara weighed in saying the increase in tick-borne diseases makes it critical to review policies and legislations on control.

“The number of legislations on animal health under review include cattle cleansing regulations, stock register regulations, movement of cattle and pigs’ regulations, movement of game animal’ regulations, regulations governing movement of strayed animals and infectious things, import regulation and medicines and allied substance act control regulations among others,” he said.

Government is on a drive to boost the national herd to ensure the country has enough meat and milk for consumption and exports.