Place animal health management front and centre

In the last episode of season one, Angie Khumalo, presenter of Mzansi Wethu’s agricultural television show, African Farming, visited Bheki Mhlane, an exceptional sugarcane farmer in Umzinto on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. He inherited the farm from his family, learning as he goes along how to farm with sugarcane, a challenging crop to work with.

During the studio interview with some of the leading experts in their fields, Khumalo wanted to know from Dr Thapelo Makae, Elanco Veterinarian, if is a good idea to let livestock loose in the sugarcane fields after harvesting. Dr Makae took the opportunity to talk about the various subjects discussed during the first season of the show. He eluded to the fact that nutrition plays a centre role in managing animal health. 

“If a farmer doesn’t give animals a balanced diet with the relevant supplements, he or she will face a lot of challenges because of that.” 

According to him, a good feeding programme plays an important role but should be in conjunction with the management of various other issues that could affect an animal’s health. 

“If a farmer implements various other programmes such as parasite management just as effectively, everything comes together eventually to ensure animals are healthy.”  

Making sure animal health issues are dealt with effectively is crucial, particularly as herd sizes become larger. Farmers can improve the health, welfare and productivity of their animals through good animal health planning.

Therefore, a farmer should make time to actively observe animals on a daily basis – any signs of animal health issues should be noted and followed up. If a farmer pays attention to his livestock, early detection and intervention of serious diseases can stop these diseases from infiltrating the whole herd. 

It is best practice to have a good relationship with a vet who can inform the farmer on how to prevent and manage diseases. They can provide resources and training to help a farmer establish a good animal health management plan that look at prevention, identification, management and treatment of issues from start to finish.

It is a continuous process as the farmer needs to look at various improvement methods that encourages the development of health building and disease control measures appropriate to the particular farm’s circumstances. This in turn leads to a system that is progressively less dependent on veterinary medicines without jeopardising the welfare of animals. 

At Elanco, healthy animals are the key to solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. Through their innovative products and services, the company empower veterinarians, food producers, and all those who raise and care for animals with the tools they need to advance animal health, whether it’s sustainable protein production, chronic disease management, year-round wellness, or therapeutics.

Elanco strive to help farmers deliver a sustainable supply of safe, affordable products to the market through the company’s products and services that prevent, treat and control cattle diseases, improve performance and production.

For information: e-mail Dr Makae at

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