|Farmers encouraged to brand their cattle|
|Saturday, 04 August 2012 15:18|
Business ReporterFARMERS have been urged to brand their livestock to help the veterinary services department identify origins of livestock diseases when there are outbreaks as well as traceability of stray animals.
Branding is also said to be important economically in terms of exports as most buyers have made this mandatory.
Bulawayo chief animal health inspector, Mr Ndumiso Bhebhe, said branding is important as it helps them in tracing livestock as well as in keeping up with international standards.
“The veterinary has its own district branding that is put on the left neck side of the animal which is generally an animal health brand. Most of the countries who buy our meat want to be able to trace it up to the table and these are now standard export provisions,” he said.
Mr Bhebhe advised farmers to brand their livestock in winter as the wounds heal easily compared to the rainy season.
Branding has been identified as an important strategy of disease control and of classifying animals with areas of origin and ownership.
According to statistics from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), there has been a remarkable decrease in the number of stolen cattle although stray animals and the slow uptake of the programme by farmers remain a cause for concern.
Police revealed that from 2005-2011 there has been a 50 percent decrease in stock theft cases.
Bulawayo provincial registrar, Mrs Jane Peters, said the application process for a brand certificate is usually three to six months but due to the increase in demand for the US$2 document, it was taking the Registrar’s office longer.
“According to our records there are a number of people who have obtained brand certificates but they are not being used. Farmers are not branding their cattle,” she said.
Statistics reveal that in January last year approximately 171 000 brand mark certificates were taken and the number of branded cattle should be 2 million but the number is allegedly less, proof that people are not using the brand marks.
Mrs Peters advised farmers on the correct procedures to take after buying a branded cow as some criminals steal cattle and remove the brand marks and put their own illegally.
She said the correct way was to cross the old brand with a line and not remove it completely and added that all letters of the brand mark should be the same size.
The police have been carrying out cattle branding campaigns in various parts of the country as a reminder of the importance of the exercise and the positive results obtained from branding.