The orphaned calves of the zone 6b cattle in the North East that were slaughtered in Maun following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in that area in September last year are being relocated to Chobe at Pandamatenga transit point for auction and rearing.
The calves had remained in collection centres post the FMD outbreak in Zone 6b control zone in North East. Over 6 000 infected cattle were then moved to be slaughtered at the Maun abattoir in line with government’s decision to maintain the Zone 6b’s green status and also to compensate the farmers for the killing of their cattle.
The orphaned calves weighing less than 200kg will be kept in Pandamatenga kraals close to a month where they will be monitored and taken care off before they could be auctioned to the public.
Speaking during the consultative meeting in Kasane, the Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao stated that initially the calves were over 1 600 but the number has since decreased as some died due to different conditions. According to him the calves that have since remained and expected to be auctioned are over 1 000, and they have already been tested and vaccinated.
He noted that Chobe was selected to receive the calves due to the fact that FMD vaccination was effective in district as farmers in the area met 100% target in comparison to Ngamiland. Molao has urged the public to utilise the opportunity to buy the calves indicating that they present a high quality and genetic material that is not found in Chobe.
This decision however did not seat well with one of the local farmers, Simasiku Matengu who lamented that the FMD strain that was detected in Zone 6B was very strong as compared to the strain that was detected in their area over the years.
He therefore fears that this may come as a disadvantage to farmers in the area if the strain could spread into their livestock for in case there may be some infected calves. That as it may, Matengu however on the other hand applauded government for the initiative indicating that it would boost the cattle industry in the area, as the number of cattle is low currently standing at 15 000.
North East District FMD Coordinator Dr Bernard Mbeha however allayed the fears assuring the public that the calves have been vaccinated for three times and they are in good condition. “We have been monitoring the animals all these time for the last couple of months to ensure that they do not have any diseases that they could potentially spread into the new area,” he stressed.
Mbeha revealed that 118 calves have already been relocated indicating that the process is going to take a while.