Are Zimbabwean farmers truly focused on the production of beef

I think that the answer is NO


By Wenceslous Nyamupfukudza


Why do most farmers lose great numbers of cattle to tick borne diseases every year? With this knowledge of ticks and the beef calendar, definitely farmers should make a difference!

Tick Control involves the destruction of parasitic stages by acaricides and in this case a thorough knowledge of ticks’ lifecycle and its host relationship is a must have and accurate knowledge of the epidemiology of the disease, where aim is to control tick borne disease.

There are generally two mechanism of tick control which are:

▪️Off host control
Not very effective, several methods used but involve environmental alteration like continual cultivation of land, burning grass before rains, practicing rotational grazing, application of acaricides in limited areas eg caves.

▪️On host control: use of acaricides

The host animal is used to collect ticks and convey them to the site of destruction e.g. dip tank, spray race, pour-ons.

Methods of application includes:

Dust – economical for smaller animals like dogs and cats – lindane, Malathion.

Hand spray, knapsack with pigs, effective for small herds up to 50 animals.
Spray races (40l/min).
Emersion or Plunge dipping- long swim bath 10 000- 18 000l. ensure thorough wetting, correct strength of acaricides, and correct interval between dipping.
Pour-ons, spot-on, ear-tags; new acaricides with low mammalian toxicity and long residual effect particularly pyrethroids and some organophosphates.

In that regard the following calendar will also assist in the timing of maximum and minimum control

Cattle care: 12 month calender


1. End of bulling for mature cows on 31 January.
2. De- worm all stock above six months against liver-fluke, in problem areas.
3. De –worm against roundworms, on badly affected properties.
4. Pay attention to fly control.
5. Weekly dipping to control ticks, particularly brown ear tick adults.
6. Dipping may be reduced if cattle have been vaccinated against tick borne diseases.
7. Tick borne diseases are a menace at this time, particularly theileriosis (January disease).
8. Cattle to be on phosphate/salt supplementation.


1. Pregnancy diagnosis for heifers.
2. Weaning of calves.
3. Vaccinate weaners and yearling against contagious abortion and blackleg.
4. Booster vaccinate yearling against blackleg, at 18 months of age.
5. Continue fly control.
6. Tick control paying particular attention to brown ear ticks.
7. Tick borne diseases are major menace as well as lumpy skin disease, rift valley fever, blue-tongue and other vector borne diseases.
8. Provide cattle with phosphate/salt supplement.


1. Pregnancy diagnosis on mature cows.
2. Cull non-pregnant heifers.
3. Vaccinate young stock (18months of age) against blackleg.
4. Continue fly control in problem areas.


1. Breeding soundness examination for bulls should be carried out. Cull non- pregnant mature cows and poor performers.
2. Deworm all young stock and adults against roundworm.
3. Begin protein supplementation and start using of crop residues e.g. groundnut hay.


1. Continue with activities as in April.
2. May reduce dipping frequency (fortnightly to monthly) depending on tick challenge.


1. Reduced dipping frequency (fortnightly to monthly) depending on challenge.
2. Vaccinate against tick borne diseases (theileriosis, red water, gall sickness, heartwater).
3. Consult your Government vet on the use of these vaccines in your area. (animals can be vaccinated using the vaccines from May to October as long as they are above 3 months of age).
4. Protein supplementation and usage of crop residues.


1. Calving for heifers starts.
2. Implement livestock identification trust tagging for calves.
3. Control brown ear tick nymphs which become active until September.
4. Protein and phosphate supplementation and usage of crop residues.


1. Calving for mature cows starts. Implement identification tagging for calves.
2. Vaccinate breeding bulls against vibriosis and leptospirosis.
3. Protein and phosphate supplementation and usage of crop residues.


1. Dehorn calves at one month of age
2. Vaccinate cows and heifers against vibriosis and leptospirosis
3. Continue protein and phosphate supplementation
4. Plant toxicity is expected at this time of the year, take precautionary measures e.g. over grazed pastures are a great risk for plant toxicity.
5. Beware of calf scours in newly born calves (birth to 3 months).


1. Start bulling of heifers
2. Castrate calves using burdizzo at three months or surgical at one month.
3. Cull cows for old age before bulling.
4. Vaccinate against vector borne diseases e.g. lumpy skin, rift valley fever, stiff sickness, blue tongue.
5. Deworm all stock above six months against liverfluke, paramphistomes and roundworms.
6. Continue protein supplementation.
7. Watch out for bont legged and red legged ticks under the tail.
8. Plant toxicity is expected at this time of the year, take precautionary measures.


1. Start bulling of mature cows.
2. Remove protein supplementation and replace with phosphate/salt supplementation in summer.
3. Fly control in problem areas.


1. Ticks and tickborne diseases are on the increase, intensify tick control (increase dipping to weekly, depending on challenge).
2. Stop bulling of Heifers on 15th December.
3. Fly control in problem areas.
4. Phosphate/salt supplementation.

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