The Department of Livestock Production and Development says the national herd continues to deteriorate owing to challenges of nutrition and a high mortality figure caused by some diseases such as anthrax and blackleg.
Although government has made efforts to increase the national herd, the number of cattle in the country has continued on a downward trend due to various challenges such as disease and lack of proper nutritional management by farmers.
According to statistics released by the Department of Livestock Production and Development, the cattle population trend continues to deteriorate and the figure is pegged at just above 4 million cattle down from the year 2000 figure of over 6 million.
Chief livestock specialist, Ms Rutendo Nyahoda says farmers have over the past few years been failing to adequately prepare for the calving season resulting in the quality of the breed produced deteriorating, adding that poor nutrition and health managementÂ are some of the causes of the decline in numbers.
â€œWe have a major challenge in which our farmers are failing to adequately prepare for the calving season. Our breeds are not of good quality and farmers are still not following the vaccination schedule,â€ Ms Nyahoda said.
Ms Nyahoda noted that basic cattle breeding principles should be followed by farmers throughout the year so that when the calving season which falls between November and April comes, the cattle are healthy and produce quality offspring.
â€œOur farmers are not using the basic principles for the production of good quality offsprings,â€ she added.
The national herd has been on a decline since arguably the worst drought ever witnessed in the country in 1992 when many cattle perished.
Analysts however believe the Ministry of Finance should channel resources towards the rebuilding of the national herd as it contributes significantly to export earnings.