Beef abattoirs feel the heat

TOTAL cattle slaughters in Zimbabwe declined by 11% to 185 853 head for the nine months to September 2019, due to drought and disease quarantine, a new report has revealed.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In its latest report, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) noted that cumulative slaughters for the third quarter of 2019 were 63 233 head, a decrease of 11% and 3% over the same period in 2018 and the third quarter of 2019, respectively.

“Drought conditions have not yet had the expected impact of increased head at cattle sales as reluctance by farmers to sell their animals and quarantine orders following disease outbreaks have had a negative effect on cattle movements,” the report reads in part.

Lmac said large variations in monthly slaughters populate the months from January to September 2019, with the highest slaughter figure recorded in May of 23 970 head, while the lowest was in February of 17 962 head.

“For the first nine months of the year, Mashonaland West province recorded the highest number of slaughters at monitored abattoirs, accounting for 19% of the national slaughter. Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland South were second, third and fourth with 15, 14 and 13%, respectively,” it says.

Manicaland had the lowest slaughters, accounting for just 1%, which may be reflective of the lack of monitoring at abattoirs and not the absence of cattle slaughters, the report notes.

“Slaughters in Bulawayo have been on a significant downward trend in recent months.”

The report notes that in September, the breakdown of slaughter quality shows that manufacturing and economy grades account for 50% of slaughters. Economy grade continues to dominate the carcasses slaughtered, making up 39% of all slaughters, reflecting an increase of 2% over the same period in 2018.

“Typically, as the year progresses and pastures dry up, commercial farmers and feedlot operators normally resort to feedlotting. However, the economics of this practice are under huge pressure due to the cost of stockfeed. As slaughter stock is predominantly drawn from communal cattle producers, they will be most affected by the drought as producers rely on natural pastures,” says the report.

The quality composition of slaughtered cattle over the period under review shows manufacturing and economy accounting for 45% while super grade accounts for 18%.

Matabeleland North boasted the highest average carcass size, averaging 232kg over the third quarter of 2019.

Bulawayo and Masvingo were second and third, averaging 191 and 190kg, respectively. Manicaland had the lowest carcass weight of 161kg.

The wholesale price of economy grade increased by 510% in the period under review from $7,63 to $46,83 per kg. The highest increase of 656% was for choice grade, increasing from $9 to $68/kg. Supers continue to be in short supply on the market.

“Stockfeed prices continue to be driven by inflationary pressures of raw materials. It is anticipated that as supply bottlenecks of key raw materials increase, this reality will be reflected in the price. Disposable consumer income is being eroded by inflation and as a result, dietary changes that will reduce demand for animal protein are inevitable,” the report reads in part.

Buying conditions have been characterised by prices being quoted in United States dollar and paid in ZWL at the prevailing exchange rate, a situation that has increased prices in ZWL terms.

“The outbreaks of diseases such as foot and mouth and theileriosis have resulted in regular quarantining of cattle in parts of the country, complicating the marketing of cattle in those areas,” it said.

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