At least 25 000 cattle died between September 2015 and March this year due to the effects of the El Nino induced drought, an official said yesterday. Director of the Division of Livestock Production and Development under Livestock and Veterinary Services, Mr Bothwell Makodza, told The Herald that they had carried out a headcount of livestock that succumbed to drought.
He said out of the five most affected provinces, Masvingo and Matabeleland North recorded the highest deaths, while Matabeleland South was least affected. The other two provinces were Manicaland and Midlands.
“We started doing the headcount of animals dying due to starvation in September 2015 and as at March 11, 2016, we have recorded 25000 deaths of beasts due to starvation as a result of the El Niño induced drought,” said Mr Makodza.
He said Masvingo recorded the highest deaths with 12 016, while Matabeleland South had the lowest with 1 268 deaths.
“In other affected provinces, Manicaland reported 3 580 deaths, Matabeleland North reported 4 637, while Matebeleland South reported 1 268 deaths.
“This brings the total to 24 506 whilst no deaths caused by starvation have been reported post 11 March 2016,” he added.
He said despite the rainfall the country received later in the season, some low rainfall areas particularly in regions three and four were still short of adequate pastures and drinking water for livestock.
Mr Makodza said the latest rains had, however, improved grazing pastures in some parts of the country but warned farmers to desist from burning grass and instead, store it for the drier season later in the year.
“I have to emphasise that the latest rains improved grazing in most parts of the country, even the availability of drinking water for animals is looking better than earlier in the season.
“We, however, urge farmers not to burn this bio mass and instead cut the grass and make hay for their animals,” he said.
Mr Makodza said there was no need for farmers to worry about potential outbreaks of tick borne diseases as a result of the latest rains and emphasised that diseases such as foot and mouth were not caused by rain.
“If farmers just adhere to their dipping regimes their animals will not succumb to tick borne diseases,” he said.