An investigation of the socio-economic impact of Bovine Brucellosis in the Mabeskraal community of Moses Kotane Municipality, North West Province of South Africa
The study intended to determine the socio-economic impact of bovine brucellosis in the Mabeskraal village and surrounding communities in the Moses Kotane local municipality in the North West Province of South Africa and assess the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the farmers and the community on the disease, its causative factors and ways to avoid the disease. The study also intended to identify the risk factors contributing to the prevalence and spread of the disease, conduct a −economic assessment and impact of the disease on the community and recommend strategies to arrest the spread of the disease. Two Animal Health Technicians collected, distributed and helped to fill in the questionnaire with the randomly selected cattle farmers in their respective wards. There was intention to fill in at least 288 questionnaires from a similar number of farmers. A total of 126 responses were finally received from the Animal Health Technicians. The median number of household members was five with slightly more than 50% of the members being over 50 years old. Just below 50% of the members had matriculated. The farmers owned up 213 cattle each even if there were those that owned less than 5. The farmers kept cattle for a variety of reasons including cultural purposes and for trading. Only one farmer from those interviewed owned land and the rest were rearing cattle on a communal basis. The biggest contributor to livelihood to the farmers was a combination of formal employment, cattle farming, small ruminants farming and poultry production depicting the importance of agriculture to the livelihoods of this community. The prevalence of brucellosis village level in the study area is very high (76%). The within herd prevalence which in this case looks at individual animal owners is within acceptable levels of 0% but was as high as 31% in some kraals. There are a significant number of risk factors depending on reasons for keeping of cattle which seemed to be contributing to non-observance of biosecurity measures. The risky practices by the community include grazing their animals communally with minimal movement control, lack of vaccination of heifers, not having dedicated camps in which cattle could calf, non-removal of aborted tissues, keeping of cattle that have aborted and indiscriminate buying or selling of their cattle without asking questions on vaccination history or general health of the animals. The knowledge of farmers on the status disease was found to be very low and their attitudes and practices on buying and selling could easily lead to the spread of the disease. The practices were influenced by the socio cultural and economic circumstances of the study population. Although low calving rates could be caused by a variety of other conditions, the number of calves at foot in the study area was found to be very low and constituted only 12% of the total herd. The farmers in this community are potentially losing opportunities for producing sufficient calves to improve their lives as a result of these diseases and other conditions. The study recommended that awareness campaigns be commenced and that test, slaughter and vaccination campaigns be started in an effort to control the disease and lead to better productivity of the cattle in the village. It is believed that by so doing, productivity may be increased and lead to improved benefits for the community.