Livestock experts have urged farmers in Matabeleland region to embrace modern ways of branding their cattle to minimise the loss of their animals.
Muhle Masuku, a livestock expert told Radio Dialogue that farmers should use a new Bolus microchip “pill” which makes it easy for farmers to identify and locate stray animals.
“It is a modern way of tracking lost animals. We want our farmers to embrace it. It is a pill that is swallowed by a cow and a censor is then used to read the numbers written on the pill,” said Masuku.
Masuku said the initiative is now being used in neighbouring Botswana where a censor is used to dictate the identification figures written on the pill.
The Bolus chip is inserted into the cow, the number on it is read by a reader and is transmitted through radio frequency link to extension officer’s personal computer. This is then linked with the following information:
• Owner’s name
• Brand position
The information is downloaded to the extension officer’s personal computer through a docking station via the Government data network.
Another expert Vusumuzi Ncube from livestock zone shared similar views that this new initiative will minimise the loss of cattle. He said it is time for communal farmers to use such modern facilities which provide security for cattle breeding.
He said: “This is a good way of tracking stray animals, farmers should not think twice but embrace it.”
The Bolus can be used with large ruminant species such as cattle and sheep. It is a large “pill” similar to a magnet that is administered with a balling gun and remains in the rumen for the life of the animal.
Since the bolus is in the rumen, it is not visible and can be used to identify an animal for ownership when an ear tag is not available.
Masuku further urged farmers to ensure that their animals are fully registered so that they do not lose them when found as stray animals.
He said there are reports that some farmers are not registering their animals in their stock cards as a way of evading tax.