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Lockdown a blessing in disguise for livestock sector

People, confined to homes, have taken to rearing cattle, poultry in a big way

The lockdowns following the COVID-19 outbreak has a positive impact on the State’s livestock sector. People, confined to homes, turned to livestock rearing, either as a source of income or as a hobby to engage themselves. Livestock and poultry entrepreneurship has emerged as a potential employment sector in the State. While more than 75% of women are involved in livestock rearing, more than 50% of men are involved in marketing of livestock products.

As per the statistics of the Animal Husbandry Department, cases reported in veterinary hospitals have recorded a quantum jump in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20, indicating a substantial increase in livestock rearing.

“There has been an annual increase of 17% in the number of the cases reported in veterinary hospitals this year compared to 2019-20. In the case of cattle, the increase is 7% whereas it is 21% for small ruminants such as goat. Pet animal cases, especially dogs and cats, show an annual increase of 46% to 103% during this period,” says T.P. Sethumadhavan, former Director, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU).

This tally may increase further considering the increase in cases at KVASU hospitals and related institutions.

Veterinarians’ shortage

The State is witnessing a shortage of veterinarians to treat the increasing livestock. There is also a need for a substantial increase in diagnostic facilities. The department has launched night veterinary services at the block level. Haemoprotozoan diseases are also on the rise as cattle have been brought from neighbouring States, say experts.

The State has shown a quantum jump in milk production during the post COVID period. However, lack of value-addition and cold chain facilities have affected the marketability of products. There is a need to focus on sustainable meat production in order to meet the increasing demand in national and international markets, says B. Sunil, Professor and Head, Meat Technology Unit, KVASU.

“Animal health should be ensured by creating disease-free zones, which in turn will promote export of meat and meat products,” says Dr. Sunil.

In dairying, feed cost accounts for more than 75% of the cost of production, with cattle feed prices rising steadily in the State. But continuous rain and fodder production programmes have helped the farmers to reduce the cost of production with the use of green fodder. Farmers say that the cost of dairying can be reduced by 40% with the strategic use of green fodder.

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