Dairy calves dying mysteriously


Swazi Times July 16,2009

MBABANE – Local dairy farmers are currently losing their dairy calves to an unknown disease that has raised the mortality rate in calves.

According to the Acting Chairman of the Swaziland Dairy Cooperative, Henry Dladla, they had decided to take the necessary steps to determine the cause of the deaths.

“Our calves are dying and we do not know what is causing this. We have engaged the Veterinary Department in the Ministry of Agriculture to help us determine the cause of the deaths. Our main concern is that we do not source dairy breeding stock locally, we have to import from South Africa and we are really concerned, especially because our calves are dying in such a mysterious manner,” Dladla said.

Dairy farmers have bought cows valued at close to E400 000 last year. The annual demand for milk in the country is between 40 and 50 million litres, whilst the commercial milk production from the national herd of dairy cows is about 3.4 million litres per annum. The deficit is met through imports of dairy products and milk produced from the beef herd.


The Swaziland Dairy Board (SDB), in conjunction with the ministry took a team of 17 dairy farmers to Standerton and Amersfoort in South Africa to select and purchase dairy cows and pregnant heifers last year and again early this year. About 11 of these farmers are new or starting dairy farmers and the rest already have dairy units but purchased additional dairy cows to increase their milk production, total herd and to generate more income.

In Standerton, the officials assisted farmers select and purchase 25 cattle valued at E177 500; 20 of which were valued at E7 000 each and the five were E7 500 each. In Amersfoot, the farmers purchased 25 dairy cows valued at E210 000; five worth E6 000 each and the 20 worth E9 000 each. The total cost for the 50 dairy animals was E387 500 and all were the Jersey type.