The South African livestock farming sector faces serious animal disease challenges that have to be tackled quickly and effectively, as its economic value is at stake. Successful management and control of these diseases depend on a collaborative effort from all stakeholders in the private and public arenas.
Although South Africa lost its FMD-free status in 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) negotiated agreements with the country’s trading partners on the continued export of safe commodities such as wool, salted hides and skins, and heat-treated products.
However, recent local outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have led to some countries restricting trade with South Africa in all commodities from cloven-hoofed animals. This has had a devastating effect on industries that depend on trade to survive. China, one of our major trading partners, has prohibited trade in these commodities.
According to state veterinarian Dr Mpho Maja, the department is doing everything it can to control the spread of infectious diseases and has placed FMD-affected properties and areas under quarantine. “We hope to bring the disease under control in the next few months and we are vaccinating in Limpopo and in KZN in the FMD-challenged areas,” she says.
Saleyards have been closed in affected areas because they are a point of contact between livestock from various farms. “That’s where we trade and that’s where there is the possibility of a lot of exchange of infections,” Dr Maja explains. Auction houses are bound by biosecurity regulations and are audited twice a year in compliance with the biosecurity requirements of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health).
Saleyards play a critical role in maintaining livestock biosecurity by implementing regulations that require animal and farmer identification, branding, farm of origin information, disinfection of offloading and reloading areas, and a saleyard vet or approved technician. All this encourages confidence in animal health for buyers and sellers alike.
“Disease control in the country’s flocks and herds is our collective responsibility and it translates to good management in the national herd,” Dr Maja concludes.
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