Livestock sector recovers

31 January 2018 | Agriculture

Namibia's livestock farming sector has recovered from drought and economic recession, with higher numbers of cattle and sheep marketed last year.

The sector experienced one of its worst years in 2016, but the number of cattle marketed last year increased by 30%.

According to the Meat Board of Namibia a total of 421 000 cattle were marketed last year compared to 293 000 in 2016.

Of the total number of cattle exported last year, 313 000 were weaners exported to South African feedlots, which means that 172 000 cattle were slaughtered at local abattoirs in 2017.

Producers were also paid a 34% higher price for weaners at auctions in 2017 compared to the previous year.

According to the Meat Board, the average B2 grade beef price at export abattoirs increased by 16% in 2017.

In 2016 there was a 30.3% decrease in the number of cattle marketed compared to 2015.

Numbers have now almost stabilised to the level of 2015, when 433 491 cattle were marketed.

The Meat Board attributed the drop in numbers from 2015 to 2016 to a steep decline in live cattle exports to South Africa because of veterinary import regulations implemented by that country on 1 July 2016.

Live cattle exports to South Africa dropped from 281 965 in 2015 to 165 927 in 2016, showing a decrease of 30.1%.

There was also a more significant decrease of 98.6% in the live exportation of weaners in 2016, especially between June and July when the number of live cattle exports dropped from 31 837 to only two cattle.

An average decrease of N$1.31 in the weaner auction price was observed between 2016 and 2015, as the price dropped from N$18.04/kg in 2015 to N$ 16.73/kg in 2016.

The total number of sheep marketed last year increased by 2%.

A total of 704 000 sheep were marketed last year, of which 394 000 were exported and 310 000 were slaughtered locally. The average A2 sheep carcass price increased by 16% in 2017.

In 2016 a total of 680 843 sheep were marketed, of which 321 413 were slaughtered at export abattoirs.

That was 29.2% lower than in 2015, when 961 180 sheep were marketed.

“The country has suffered during the past two to three years, not only as a result of the relentless drought, but also due to the slowdown of the economy.

“In this year, we will again have to address a number of challenges,” said the Meat Board.

These include the finalisation of a market for livestock producers north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence and a decision about the future of sheep marketing in Namibia.

The Meat Board says it is important that all factors affecting the growth of the Namibian meat sector should be thoroughly discussed with the government.