Farms around the country are abuzz with inspections taking place beginning this time of the year.
In order to improve the animal health status of our country, one of the main important activity the veterinary services do, is to have regular farm and community inspections.
These inspections form part of agreements with our trading partners who import meat and meat products from Namibia.
Those honest farmers doing their business in good faith and to the latter are relaxed because they know books are up to date, movements permits are returned timeously and all their registers are filled accordingly.
On the other side of the fence, those farmers that do their business haphazardly are panicking. They are running around trying to do last minutes’ damage control. Because what it means is that their farms are faced with a possible forced closure by the authorities should they find their farm data incomprehensive and their livestock are not tagged or branded.
Just like when I was on December holidays, I visited some of my friends on their farms. I was curious to see how they manage their books on the farms but I could see guilt feelings on their faces. And I knew right there that ‘their books were not in order’.
I ran with them through the ground rules of filling in those registers and returning movement permits and vaccination programme updates. I also explained the spinoffs when all their books are in order.
On some of my friends’ farms, the visits by the authorities were long overdue. The reasons I squeezed out of them were that sometimes they travel with the register books to and fro Windhoek (or other cities and towns) because of their weekend farming.
I realised then that the problem arises when most weekend farmers are not giving enough information to their farm workers or managers to provide to the authorities during their annual farm inspections.
It, therefore, becomes problematic to make sense of the inspection without really getting all the required information to make the inspection a success.
I was also informed that in some cases, the inspections are hindered by the fact that farms become inaccessible during scheduled farm inspections. Even though prior arrangements are done, some farmers are just not at par with what is expected of them. Although they are in the minority, they still need to heed the country-wide call that of better farm management and transparency in what is happening on those farms.
Let us summarise some of the main points expected from a farmer during the veterinary official visit for an inspection.
At least 80% of livestock should be present at inspection although ideally we would rather see all 100% animals.
All these animals should be identified according to the law. Don’t try to hide those animals that are not tagged or branded (you will be found out and punished mos). And, of course, the ear-tags should have been registered on the veterinary data system (NamLITS).
The farm file should be correctly filled in and updated. All animal movement permits and registers should be filled in correctly. For example, you should update all stock numbers by balancing the animals birth, permits into the farm (arrival registers), permits out (departure registers), deaths (termination registers) and the numbers recorded on the inspection day.
Another important requirement is that all your veterinary drugs you have administered to your cattle should be recorded. It means every time you inject a cow, it must be recorded to include the date, the drug as well as the withdrawal period.
I know this is a challenge especially to villagers but still it is a must. This also applies to those farmers who supplement their animals with the lick/feeds- they need to be recorded. Actually the veterinary inspectors also check where and how you store your drugs and feed.
And don’t forget to have your empty bottles of drugs at hand to prove that you have vaccinated for the compulsory vaccines.
There are also the FAN Meat Scheme records - those green forms that commercial farmers have to submit twice year to veterinary offices).
Finally, make sure the veterinary official signs in your farm file on what transpired during the visit.
These are, in no way, comprehensive information for a farm inspection but will just serve as a guide to such inspections.
Good luck to the farmers (both commercial & communal) with the annual inspections, this year. Let us all work together during this period as always.