The aim of the study was to assess the constraints to accurate reporting of cattle mortality in Odi district, North West Province. The method that was followed in this study was based on participatory action research. The cattle owning community of Odi district participated at every phase. They were the ones who first spoke to veterinary services about ways to decrease the diseases and mortalities of their cattle. Out of this came a questionnaire so that the actual facts could be determined. A total number of 60 farmers were randomly selected from 12 villages. One farmer pulled out and we were left with 59 farmers. Since the area of study was communal, most farmers were men (n=55) and only four of them were female. It was suspected that there was a communication problem and this was proven, as 23 farmers were not even aware that mortalities have to be reported by law. The real problem was that causes of death were not being diagnosed because farmers were not aware that a necropsy could give information on the causes of death. Farmers were keen to receive training in necropsy techniques so as to be able to discuss the cause of death of cattle with the state veterinarian. A skills training course was done with the farmers at the Department of Veterinary Pathology of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. Farmers were taught to recognise the names and characteristics of normal organs and how to cut open a carcass correctly. A necropsy was demonstrated and thereafter farmers were given cattle organs from the abattoir to cut open themselves using gloves and protective clothing. Diagnostic skills were not taught as diagnosis of diseases is the province of a registered veterinarian. Farmers were given a checklist of organs and encouraged to contact the state veterinarian to describe what the carcass and organs looked like as soon after death as possible. The state veterinarian could give a tentative diagnosis over the telephone. A CD-Rom was developed as a training aid for skills training of small-scale farmers and animal health technicians (AHT’s), in elementary necropsy techniques. Farmers were thereafter visited monthly for 12 months by the state veterinarian and the AHT`s to record cattle mortalities and possible causes of death. As a result of the skills training, the number of animals reported dead did not change, but the number of unknown causes of death dropped significantly, as owners were able to correctly describe necropsy lesions in the carcasses and organs of the cattle that had died. It was concluded that the skills training technique used was an effective method of extension for recognizing causes of death in cattle and it is suggested that the CD-Rom that was developed, be used for training purposes by the state veterinary services of North West Province.
Dissertation (MSc (Veterinary Sciences))--University of Pretoria, 2006.