LIVESTOCK farmers have been advised to adopt mitigatory measures to protect animals from deaths related to climate change.
Last year, farmers lost over 50 000 cattle to drought and expectations are high that more cattle could be lost this year if farmers do not take heed of advice to climate-proof the sector through different measures such as de-stocking, growing fodder crops, hay baling and conserving stover.
Provinces mostly affected by poverty deaths are Matabeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and some parts of Mashonaland Central.
Department of Veterinary Services chief director, Dr Josphat Nyika, said on Wednesday that Matabeleland South had seven districts badly affected by poverty deaths, with the province losing over 30 000 cattle.
“More than 50 000 cattle succumbed to poverty deaths during the 2018/19 season, with Matabeleland South recording the highest cases,” he said.
“While the 2018/2019 season was not so good in terms of rains, the 2019/2020 is even worse.
“If farmers do not take heed, more cattle are going to die.
“There is no grazing in the farming areas. It is also risky for animals to move long distances in search of grazing and water as this may lead to the spread of diseases such as foot and mouth.”
Dr Nyika urged farmers to de-stock by selling old and non-productive cattle.
Farmers could use the proceeds to buy feed.
Dr Nyika said not all farmers should de-stock as they could buy survival feed, which was specifically prepared for drought conditions.
Farmers could also make use of grain stover from the preservation of maize, wheat, sorghum and soyabean, which was normally done at this stage.
The stover could then be ammoniated through treatment with urea, under veterinary officers’ supervision.
“De-worming or dosing is another option that can be used by farmers to protect their livestock,” said Dr Nyika.