Last update: April 2, 2012 09:35:32 AM E-mail Print






The small stock industry comprising 31,4 million sheep and 2,7 million goats constitutes approximately 24,6 % of the total agricultural production and 20-22 % of agricultural exports of the Republic of South Africa.

On account of its expansion through the years this industry is now practised throughout the country under a wide variety of conditions which naturally contribute towards considerable annual losses. Through lack of accurate figures, it is estimated that direct animal losses at present could be 165 million rand per year, while an additional income to the industry of 28 million rand per year could be earned, for every 5 % increase in lambing percentage. Indirect losses were not taken into account.

For various reasons until fairly recently, the diagnostic service available to the small stock industry was extremely limited. With the aim of increasing livestock production and reproduction, Regional Veterinary Laboratories and Veterinary Laboratories were also established in the small stock farming areas. These laboratories have developed and expanded gradually and are at present capable of rendering a fairly comprehensive diagnostic service. While investigations and research at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Middelburg, Cape are mainly directed at small stock problems, these activities are also undertaken at the Veterinary Research Institute, Onderstepoort, the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Stellenbosch and the Veterinary Laboratory at Grahamstown, in addition to their other research programmes.

Certain deficiencies which should receive urgent attention, do however still exist in the present diagnostic service at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Middelburg, Cape. This mainly concerns diagnostic virology, although the diagnostic activities in certain other sections dealing with other aspects, also need to be improved and expanded so that this laboratory could become fully functional in the entire field of veterinary diagnostics for sheep and goats. Similar improvements should also be undertaken at other Regional Laboratories concerned with the small stock industry while the Veterinary Laboratories involved should be equipped to undertake a fairly wide range of basic diagnostic work. Consideration should also be given to the establishment of another one or two laboratories in the extensive small stock areas.

The herd approach in veterinary practice has as yet not taken hold in the small stock industry. The only service of this nature is at present undertaken by the state and is mostly free of charge. As such an approach on a remunerative basis appears to hold possibilities for the future, it should be encouraged to develop along certain lines.

Regional Veterinary Laboratory, P/Bag X528, 5900 Middelburg, Cape Province.



Journal of the South African Veterinary Association 52 (4)