With tick-borne diseases the biggest killers of cattle, the Government is set to roll out a tick-grease programme to benefit one million households under the Presidential Livestock Programme ahead of the rainy season.
The programme is part of efforts to reduce the number of cattle succumbing to tick-borne diseases, especially theileriosis — commonly known as January disease — which has killed thousands of livestock during the rainy season in the past few years.
The programme will see small-scale livestock farmers being each supplied with 1kg of tick grease to protect their cattle between dips, with dip tanks also scheduled for rehabilitation.
January disease, which is spread through a bite of the brown-ear tick, is common between December and March but over the past years its cycle has overlapped between seasons.
Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement secretary Dr John Basera said the procurement process of the grease had been done and the programme was set to be launched soon.
“If the tick grease is properly applied, the animal will be protected for the next 25 days. One kilogramme of tick grease covers between six to eight months for a household with between 15 to 20 cattle,” he said.
The tick grease should be applied in the ear, under the tail and tail brush.
Farmers can trim the tail brush. They should also seek assistance from local veterinary extension worker.
Dr Basera said the country had lost a significant number of livestock to tick-borne diseases and there was need to promote dipping.
Tick-borne diseases have affected the country, with farmers losing over 50 000 cattle to January disease in 2018.
He said plans were also underway to increase dipping and this was to be achieved through resuscitation of dip tanks.
“We have 3 900 dip tanks country wide and 2 600 are not functional. We are looking at reviving the dip tanks to edify our fight against tick-borne diseases.
“We need to dip cattle for between 18 months to two years. Government will help with the resuscitation and construction of dip tanks. Government will support with cement and roofing sheets while the community will provide bricks, stones and labour.
It is important that community supports the projects so that there can be ownership of the facility and this helps in terms of maintenance.
“We want to avoid tragedy of the commons. We will also work with traditional leadership. In terms of resuscitation of dip tanks, we are working with Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO), as Government would want to expand the pilot programmes.
“We are also looking at manufacturing dip locally as we are currently relying on imports. The import substitution is key in the achievement of the national Vision 2030 of achieving a middle income economy.
“By manufacturing dip locally, we will be promoting local value chains and companies manufacturing dip. We cannot continue supporting foreign manufacturers,” he said.
Signs of an animal affected by January disease include swelling of the lymph nodes under the ears and on the shoulder, cloudiness of the eyes, difficulty in breathing with froth from the nose and mouth.
The affected animal collapses and dies within few days. January disease is a notifiable disease in Zimbabwe and when suspected farmers are compelled by the law to report to the Division of Veterinary Services.