Tick-borne diseases have continued to pose a serious threat to the national herd, with huge losses to farmers in the Midlands province.
Midlands Veterinary Provincial Director Dr Martin Sibanda has confirmed the deaths of cattle in huge numbers and said theileriosis, also known as January disease has affected parts of Shurugwi and Mvuma.
He said intensive dipping is the only way to curb tick-borne diseases.
“January disease is continually affecting cattle in commercial areas of Shurugwi and Mvuma. We are losing cattle in huge numbers.
“We urge intensive dipping that is three dippings in two weeks to clear the ticks, said Dr Sibanda.
Dr Sibanda said drugs are not recommended because they stay for a long time in animals.
He said most animals were dying as farmers were having challenges to access dipping chemicals.
“The problem is mainly as a result of erratic dipping experienced in most areas during the last rainy season due to shortage of dipping chemicals in the country,” said Dr Sibanda.
Some farmers have resorted to selling them at give-away prices before they succumb to diseases.
The problem of tick-borne diseases began in 2017 when the national dipping programme started facing serious challenges.
Dr Sibanda said most dip tanks are not offering the recommended weekly dipping due to lack of dipping chemicals.
He said there is also a low turnout at dip tanks.
“Some farmers are not willing to take their cattle for dipping at the dip tanks while some prefer conducting the operation themselves, but may do it in the wrong way and this is not effective in controlling ticks”, he said.
Weekly dipping interrupts the breeding cycle of ticks and prevents a build-up of tick population in the veld.
Dipping cattle in chemicals weekly also helps to kill the ticks.
Many cattle have also died of theileriosis, in some parts of Mashonaland West province, and more cows are said to be under threat.
The disease, which has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, is mostly common between December and March.
In Zimbabwe, livestock production is important as a source of livelihoods for 65 percent of the country’s rural households.
The sector contributes significantly to inclusive growth of the agriculture sector and the economy as well as food and nutrition security.