Govt investigates mass cattle deaths in Zambezi

The Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has investigated the mass death of cattle in the Zambezi region.

Between June and October 2023, 585 cattle died in the Kabe South constituency, as reported by The Namibian last October. Cattle have been mysteriously dying in several villages since July, including Ikaba, Nsundwa, Ihaha, Nakabolelwa, Ivilivinzi, Muyoyeta, Kasika, Mbalasinte, Nantungu and Nankuntwe.

The ministry initiated an investigation to determine the cause of death, assess the problem’s magnitude and develop effective control measures.

According to chief veterinary officer Albertina Shilongo, the investigation team, comprising veterinary experts, visited 23 cattle posts in 12 crush-pen areas across the region. They collected past and current animal health information from farmers and herders, including clinical signs, deaths, vaccination status and grazing conditions.

The investigation revealed that most deceased cattle were old, pregnant, lactating or young animals. Over 80% of visited cattle were in a poor condition due to insufficient grazing pasture.

Shilongo says the cattle deaths were primarily attributed to drought, as most fatalities occurred during periods of poor grazing. Post-mortem examinations showed the presence of liver fluke, heartwater, pasteurellosis, black quarter, and worm infestation among the deceased cattle.

The investigation also found that many farmers did not vaccinate or deworm their livestock against common diseases and worm infestation, nor did they provide essential feed supplements during dry periods.

In response, the government allocated N$2,8 million for vaccines, dewormers, minerals, vitamins and antibiotics. Vaccination campaigns targeting anthrax, botulism and black quarter were launched, covering 99% of the targeted cattle population in the eastern part of the Zambezi region.

Furthermore, farmer training programmes were conducted to raise awareness and educate on proper herd health management practices.
Shilongo has urged farmers to report any livestock deaths to DVS officials promptly.

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