Animal health crucial to improve Africa’s protein production

The correct use of vaccines and medicines is crucial to increase food security and improve animal protein production in Africa, said Dr Riaan du Preez, manager for Afrivet’s sub-Sahara Africa export and product development unit.

Animal health crucial to improve Africa’s protein production
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He was speaking on Tuesday at the Farmer’s Weekly Agribusiness Africa conference, at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.

Du Preez was a panellist for the ‘Preparing for a drought’ session.

He said Africa’s track record for animal protein production, for example, is dismal, and attributed this to the incorrect use of vaccines and medicines.

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He added that the conception rate in Africa is 35% to 40% for cattle, which means that, on average, six out of ten cows are eating grass without calving.

He also pointed out that about 28% of calves die before weaning, and said such poor efficiency could be managed and prevented, and “we could probably produce double the animal protein we are now”.

Du Preez added that the drought had highlighted the crisis, and that veterinarians had advised subsistence farmers to cull unproductive cows.

He cited a KwaZulu-Natal farmer who did not heed the advice, and subsequently lost a large portion of his herd.

He said: “People refused for socio-cultural reasons. It’s devastating; we need to get vaccines into the deep of Africa.”

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Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.