By Mbekezeli Ncube
A veterinary surgeon based in Gwanda, Matabeleland South has urged cattle farmers in the drought prone region to reduce the number of livestock they kept as signs were apparent the country was heading for yet another devastating dry period.
Places most likely to be more affected by the situation are Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, which lie in lowland areas of the country sometimes referred to as the Region Five, an area which is most suitable for keeping livestock.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com on measures to take in order to avoid mass deaths of livestock in the area, Enat Mdlongwa, urged cattle farmers to reduce the number of livestock they keep in order to avoid scramble for food and water.
“There is great need to destock our livestock and remain with a manageable breeding herd. This will guarantee you that your livestock will survive because keeping more livestock will mean the ration between food and livestock does not balance,” Mdlongwa told our reporter.
The southern region has in recent history received inconsistent rainfall and in Matabeleland South alone, over 500 cattle were lost as a few people could afford to buy stock-feed with the cheapest 50kg of livestock going for at least $350.
Mdlongwa also urged farmers to give cattle a specific brand of stock-feed should they happen to be in a life threatening conditions caused by hunger.
“If they (livestock) are in a bad condition, give them pen feed with high crude protein to gain weight. If in a good condition, maintain them with maintenance diet and make sure that they do not lose the status of that good condition,” she added.