Decreasing milk, chicks and egg production dampens agric season

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Milk production has continued to decline across Zimbabwe despite a favourable rainy season that improved pastures across the country
Milk production has continued to decline in Zimbabwe despite a favourable rainy season that improved pastures across the country

Staff Writer

Zimbabwe could be bubbling with enthusiasm over high prospects of record crop yields but the same cannot be said about other areas of the agricultural sector with milk and poultry on the decline.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not spare the sector affecting sales during lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus.

However, according to 2nd Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report for the 2020/2021 agricultural season, annual pig slaughter figures at abattoirs increased during the period.

The assessment report was produced by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement.

It further states that beef cattle numbers increased from 5 443 770 cattle in 2019 to 5 478 648 2020/21 season adding that the major reasons for the increase in numbers include reduction in disease related deaths (especially Tickborne diseases) and poverty deaths, improved breeding methods, improved pastures and feed due to early rains received.

The report, however, states that the current production levels are still short of the 120 million litres for national requirements to be met.

“The current dairy herd stands at 39 000 animals with 19 000 milking cows.  The national target for milking cows to meet and exceed requirements is 32 000.

“Average production per cow per day was 13 litres. The smallholder dairy sector still contributes about four percent of national milk production.

“Productivity remains low due to high cost of breeding stock, stock feed and veterinary drugs.”

Day old chick production decreased by 2.5 percent from 73.4 million in 2019 to 71.4 million in 2020.

“Day old chick prices increased by 50 percent from an average of US$$38.00 per 100 chicks in 2019 to an average of US$$57.00 per 100 chick in 2020

“Broiler meat production decreased by two percent from 114 300 tonnes in 2019 to 111 600 tonnes in 2020.”

Small-scale broiler production continued to dominate production accounting for 73 percent of the total broiler meat produced.

According to the assessment report, the COVID-19 movement and curfew restrictions resulted in low uptake of day old chicks and restricted marketing of finished broilers and eggs.

“A total of 670 084 chicks were gassed in 2020 compared to 91 079 chicks in 2019 and this is mainly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” the report states.

It also indicates that there has been a 14 percent decrease for local layer day old chick production in 2020 with 2 637 000 chicks being produced in 2020 compared to 3 065 000 chicks produced in 2019

“The average prices for 100 day old chicks increased by 15 percent from US$59.00 in 2019 to US$68 in 2020,” it says.

The report says the point of lay pullet production decreased by 29 percent from 96 000 in 2019 to 69 000 in 2020.

“Table egg production continues to increase reaching a new high of 59.3 million dozens in 2020, surpassing 2019 production by 18 percent (50.4 million dozens) and was seven percent higher than previous record of 55.3 million achieved in 2016.

“Small-scale table eggs production accounted for about 59 percent of the total table egg production.”

In the report, government also indicates that in pig production, the national sow herd is estimated to be 60 351 of which about 20 351 is in the commercial pig production sector.

“Cumulative annual pig slaughter figures at abattoirs continues to increase from 173 694 pigs in 2018 to 178 668 pigs in 2020 which is a 11 percent increase.”

Commercial pig slaughters at abattoirs decreased by 7.3 percent from 192 747 pigs in 2019 to 178 668 pigs in 2020.

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