The national beef herd increased from 5 478 648 cattle in 2020 to 5 509 983 last year, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries Water and Rural Development has reported.
In its Second Round Crop and Livestock Assessment report, the Ministry noted cattle were getting healthier with the average national cattle mortality rate declining from 11,1 percent in 2020 to 8,86 percent last year and more cattle were sold, with the national average beef cattle off-take increasing from 9 percent to 10 percent.
“Overall beef production (formal and informal slaughters) increased by 30 percent from 50 000 tonnes in 2020 to 65 000 tonnes in 2021 against a national target of 90 000 tonnes by 2025,” said the report.
The beef carcass weight increased from 154kg in 2020 to 168kg last year against the targeted average of 220kg.
“This is as a result of the semi-commercial beef cattle production systems by farmers.
“The national average calving rates remain very low ranging from 35 percent in communal areas to 48 percent on large scale commercial farms this year, against a national target of above 60 percent.
“The grazing condition is fair to good across all provinces.
“The country managed to get all the targeted Presidential tick grease inputs of 1 006 178kg,” said the Ministry in the report.
The report also indicated that water for livestock is adequate across the country but as the season progresses it is expected that there will be water challenges in areas where livestock is dependent on boreholes and seasonal water sources.
“Water for livestock is available mostly for four to eight months. However, some wards especially Tsholotsho district, are likely to experience water challenges after three months as livestock will begin to trek long distances to perennial water sources such as dams, boreholes and perennial rivers.
“Most of the rivers and water bodies are heavily silted across all provinces,” read the report.
The Ministry said the grazing condition was fair to good across all provinces. Available grazing was expected to last for between four to eight months.
“Generally, communal areas will have shortage of grazing due to over-stocking and generally poor quality. Whilst grazing may be adequate in some place, it is dominated by unpalatable grass species. There has been an increase in invader species especially in communal area grazing due to poor veld management,” said the report.
The Ministry recommended the up-scaling of the cattle grazier scheme in the smallholder areas, where 90 percent of the slaughter stock is obtained, to increase cattle off-take and beef production to meet national demand.
“There is a need to develop a robust livestock marketing system that is farmer friendly to promote production along the livestock value chains.
“The Presidential tick grease programme should continue and upgrading the package to also include de-worming chemicals. There is a need to intensify dip tank rehabilitation programmes.“