• March 25th, 2019
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Drought, wireworm killing animals on farms east of Aranos


Staff Reporter 

WINDHOEK - Farmers east of Aranos are in the grip of one of the worst droughts in living memory with livestock and game dying daily like flies.  


And to add insult to injury, Wireworm’ or ‘Haarwurm’ (lHaemonchus contortus) have become the most important health issue as it is wreaking havoc with their herds, killing hundreds of species. Wireworm occur in the abomasum of the animals and the blood-sucking nature of wireworm can cause the loss of 0.05ml of blood a day which eventually leads to death. The females worms of about two to three centimetres can easily be identified by the white ovaries twisting around the blood filled gut and so called ‘barber’s pole’.  


Speaking from his farm “Liefde,” between Gobabis and Aranos, Freddie Dreyer related to Farmers Forum how his 20 years of hard work crumbled to nothing as he has lost almost 500 game species and more than 100 cattle and hordes of sheep in the past two years. In that period, his farm of 7 000 hectare received only between 40 and 64 mm of rain. The same situation has developed on neighbouring farms such as “Geloof” and “Hoop” where some farmers have received a mere 31mm of rain since October 2016. 


“My father started farming on “Liefde” in 1974 and this is the most vicious circle of drought we have ever witnessed.  As I am speaking to you now, I am collecting carcasses, rotting away in the blazing sun. The outburst of ringworm is also the worst in living memory and we stand helpless. Calving percentages have dropped to 40 percent and there is no chance of rebuilding one’s herds. I have moved some of my livestock at huge expenses to an area where there is grazing available, but there is nothing I can do to save my game.  Forty percent of my income used to come from my game and now they are dying like flies, I am now spending more than N$70 000 on fodder per month and last week I had to borrow N$300 000 from the bank. No rain, no income and a plague that’s killing animals. It’s vicious,” he laments.


Farmers Forum has learned on good authority that the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) will in all likelihood launch another project to assist drought-stricken farmers like their very successful project for especially communal and emerging farmers in the Warmbad and Bethanie areas in 2017.


 But far from being despondent, Dreyer, a tough-as-a-nail farmer believes relief is on its way. “My beloved 80 Angus and Simmentaler animals are all I have left and I was forced to reduce my sheep herd to just a few of the best Dorper ewes. I will feed them until it becomes impossible to pay all the debts and then sell at hopefully good prices. 
Dreyers says to get an idea of the number of worms present in the abomasum a faecal sample can be checked for the number of eggs per gram (epg).


Anaemia caused by wireworm can occur due to haemorrhage from the abomasum wall per acute infestations. In more chronic forms, the anaemia may be aggravated by the depletion of iron reserves which reduced the ability of the goat to manufacture new red blood cells. The blood protein, albumin, becomes reduced resulting in the drop of blood oncotic pressure, oedema and ‘bottle jaw’. Some Angora goats that are chronically infected over months may lose weight and get weaker but not show significant anaemia or oedema.


Nutrition is vital in maintaining a good immune system and many studies demonstrate the much better immune response by heavier kids.


The rise in the adult wireworm population in spring may be due to (i) the relaxation of resistance with the animal ewes kidding and lactating (ii) the effect of ‘hypobiosis’ where  the L4 larval development is retarded over the winter months and continues its development as the environmental conditions improve in spring. (iii) the infective larvae on the pasture survive more easily as the temperatures rise and moister environmental conditions.
As the summer progresses further, contamination results in the higher levels seen in late summer especially in weaned kids under stress.


 Each female can produce up to 10 000 eggs per day and so pastures and the veld and lands can be rapidly contaminated. The eggs hatch in 4-6 days and L1 stage larvae develops. These larvae feed on the bacteria in the faeces and develop into stage L3 larvae. These larvae crawl up moist vegetation and wait to be eaten by the goat.


Staff Reporter
2018-12-18 11:05:57 3 months ago

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