Always ask for health certificates

For Lindiwe Sithole, the new presenter of African Farming, Selina Pinky Hlabedi (Ma Pinky) is a woman of substance. “She is a respected member of the Agricultural community, but she’s also been through hard times,” Sithole points out about this Gauteng farmer. Hlabedi’s gritty determination paid off though, and today she’s a successful cattle and maize farmer. Sithole visited Hlabedi during the first episode of the new season of the show that airs Thursdays at 18:30 on Mzansi Wethu (channel 163, DStv).

Ma Pinky was born in Soweto and started her farming journey as a young girl tending her grandmother’s spinach. Today she is the owner of Ba Kwa-Hlabedi Farming, a farm of nearly 500 hectares. Here she farms with cattle and plants maize and vegetables. Helping her is her son and farm manager, Thabang, as well as her daughter Dineo. 

But it has not always been plain sailing for Ma Pinky. One of the serious setbacks she faced was losing an entire herd of cattle to brucellosis – a zoonotic disease transmitted from animals to humans. 

“I had a herd of 90 animals when brucellosis was discovered, and they all eventually tested positive,” Hlabedi remembers the disaster. 

Later in studio, Sithole asked Dr Thapelo Makae, Elanco Technical Consultant and member of African Farming’s panel of experts, what farmers can do to prevent this from happening to them.

“Brucellosis is a really serious disease, and it’s important for farmers to contact their state veterinarian to help them manage this notifiable disease,” says Makae. 

The disease is highly infectious. It is primarily found in animals but can also be transmitted to humans through animal products like unpasteurised milk. One of the main characteristics of Bovine brucellosis is abortions late (six to seven months) into a pregnancy. 

Makae stresses that farmers should be aware that this disease can also be present in the general environment. “You need to fence off areas where calving or an abortion has taken place. It could infect the whole herd.”

He also emphasises the importance of obtaining all records and health certificates of new animals before bringing them onto your farm. 

“Ask for certificates to check whether the animals have been vaccinated for brucellosis to prevent the disease from being introduced to your farm,” he advises. 

By law, heifers must be vaccinated against brucellosis before 4 and 8 months. Hlabedi is currently re establishing her cattle herd. She now has a total 35 Bonsmara and Simbra. Elanco offers a wide range of products to help keep Ma Pinky’s animals healthy. These remedies have specifically been developed to help

Veterinarians and Farmers optimally maintain the health, productivity, and profitability of livestock operations. 

Elanco™ Helpline: 0861 777 735.

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