A questionnaire survey of 315 cattle owners from the rural districts of KwaZulu-Natal was carried out. The aim of the survey was to improve our understanding of local farmers' perceptions and practices of animal disease prevention and control and to establish the extent of their relationship with veterinary services. The survey showed that many owners practice preventive measures such as deworming, tick control and vaccination. Traditional medicines were in use by over half the respondents (58.9 %). Diseases are regarded as an important management problem (56.1 %); ticks, worms and diarrhoea dominated the mentioned health problems in cattle. Veterinary services still play an important role and are a frequent source of advice to owners. The findings of the survey and their context are discussed.