FMD drops cattle production

13 May 2019 | Agriculture

Despite drought conditions, livestock exports declined considerably, by 26.49%, during the first quarter of the year, due to the weak demand for weaners by South African feedlots that were adversely affected by foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease-related trade restrictions.

“Since livestock exports are a leading contributor to the sector's performance, their decline greatly influenced an overall weak performance,” says the Meat Board of Namibia.

Export abattoirs improved performance with a 22% growth rate on account of drought-induced marketing. Butchers, on the other hand, experienced a decline of 21.2%, losing market share to export abattoirs whose producer prices remained competitive during the first quarter.

The Meat Board says that although weighted average capacity utilisation of export abattoirs for the first quarter stood at 70.30%, it is worth noting that Meatco registered a 107.86% monthly capacity utilisation in March alone, an obvious over-capacity utilisation.

Meanwhile, there was an overall decrease in the total production of cattle between January and March.

Year on year, an 18.5% decrease was witnessed in the total production of cattle during the months of January to March 2019 compared to the same period of 2018. Production decreased from 115 257 head in 2018 to 93 873 in 2019.

An amount of 177 180 cattle were marketed through various formal channels in the first quarter of 2019, translating to a 17.37% increase in comparison to the same period in 2018 when 150 961 cattle were marketed.

From total cattle marketed, 68% were live exports, 23% were taken up by export abattoirs while B&C class abattoirs only enjoyed 9% of the market share.

The Meat Board explained that FMD disease conditions forced South African feedlots to reduce their purchase of Namibian weaners as they did not have a market for their beef.

“This resulted in a significant reduction of weaner exports, hence poor cattle sector performance. Beef export abattoirs performed very well reaching unusual levels of capacity utilisation. Despite increased supply, abattoir prices remained at competitive levels.”

With regards to the sheep sector, the Meat Board says that the long term sheep marketing trend continues to depict a gradual reduction.

“The sheep sector performed well with both live exports and slaughtering by export abattoirs driving the momentum. Due to the drought situation, producers have been forced to manage their livestock levels to prevent further deterioration of rangelands and avoid losses from livestock mortalities.”

During the first quarter of 2019, a total of 104 196 head of sheep were exported live, accounting for 59% of the market share. The sheep slaughtered at export abattoirs accounted for 30% at 53 851 head, while those that were slaughtered at the B&C class abattoirs accounted for 11% with 19 133 sheep.

“Due to the small stock marketing scheme export restrictions, farmers are supplying sheep to abattoirs at below optimum prices as a matter of preventing a total loss of livestock.”

The Meat Board of Namibia is contemplating an interventionist strategy to encourage abattoirs to pay competitive prices while producers are also encouraged to support value addition ideals by slaughtering locally.


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