The Eastern Cape department of rural development and agrarian reform has dismissed concerns by the DA suggesting the death of 249 animals at experimental farms in the province was “excessive”.
The DA said on Thursday the deaths raised concerns around care for the animals and possible neglect at the six farming facilities.
DA MPL Retief Odendaal said the deaths raised questions about whether the animals were vaccinated and if the staff at the farms were trained to identify and treat diseases.
Department spokesperson Ayongezwa Lungisa responded on Friday‚ dismissing the concerns.
Lungisa said mortality norms for livestock farming was 10% before weaning and 5% after weaning.
“The number of deaths should be read together with total numbers of animals and the cause of death‚” said Lungisa.
He said a total of about 1‚100 cattle‚ 1‚150 goats and 1‚300 sheep were managed at the Dohne ADI facility and its five satellite stations (Jansenville Research Farm‚ Adelaide Research Farm‚ Wolwehoek Research Farm‚ Cradock Research Centre and Bathurst Research Centre).
Lungisa said this number excluded pre-weaning totals of lamb and calves.
“A total of 31 cattle‚ 70 sheep and 140 goats died [or had to be put down for humane reasons on veterinarian instructions] during the period April 1 2018 to March 31 2019‚” said Lungisa.
He said a large proportion of losses (98) were recorded at the Jansenville Research Farm‚ where vermin and stray dogs accounted for the loss of goats.
“Twenty-seven sheep mortalities were recorded at Cradock Research Station‚ which has been under quarantine since May 2013 due to the suspected outbreak of Johne’s disease.
“Fifteen goats died at the Adelaide Research Station and most  were ascribed to heart water‚ and birth complications accounted for two mortalities.”
Lungisa said livestock at the research facilities were used in research projects and managed according to prescribed management protocols which were supervised daily by either qualified technicians or farm managers.
He said management of research stations included the daily supervision of livestock‚ which included counting and checking for possible diseases.
He said the counting and checking of livestock were done by general assistants under the direct supervision of technicians.
“All technicians are highly experienced and are equipped with national diplomas or BTech degrees. Most of the technicians tasked to manage research livestock have more than 10 years’ experience in livestock management‚” Lungisa said.
He said management of livestock was guided by animal health programmes which included vaccination programmes‚ dosing schedules and general feeding protocols‚ and this was strictly adhered to.
“Sick animals are treated according to symptoms but the assistance of the state veterinarian is called in whenever treated animals are not responding to medication‚ or to assist where treatment of sick animals is not obvious or clear to technicians‚” Lungisa said.
He said all technicians were further supervised by another manager with more than 30 years’ experience in livestock management.
By: Ernest Mabuza -TimesLIVE
Source: TMG Digital.