Veterinary Services shuts Okapuka feedlot

The Directorate of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry this week placed the Meat Corporation of Namibia’s (Meatco’s) Okapuka feedlot under quarantine, effectively shutting the feedlot to farmers and stopping the supply of slaughter oxen to Meatco’s Windhoek abattoir. The Economist has established that the detection of Zeranol in one of the urine samples collected from two weaners led to the temporary closure of the feedlot. Zeranol according to Meatco, has been listed as a banned substance and its use has been prohibited by the both the European Union and the Namibian Government, the meat processor briefly explained. It was also established that the current closure follows an event that happened in June last year.
Shedding light on the quarantine, Meatco’s spokesperson Rosa Thobias said, “On 31 March 2016, we received the result of a [urine] sample taken on 25 June 2015, that indicated the presence of Zeranol. Of the two animals sampled only one tested positive for Zeranol. These animals originated from two different farms. Following Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the Directorate of Veterinary Services, the Okapuka feedlot was put under temporary quarantine to allow proper investigation to take place. Currently no cattle will be allowed in and out of the feedlot.”
Of interest to the Economist was how the temporary closure of the feedlot would affect its operations and what Meatco would do to dampen the impact on the farmers who regularly supply weaners to the feedlot. The Meatco abattoir in Windhoek must slaughter about 500 animals per week to maintain optimal volumes and output. With the closure of the Okapuka feedlot some 12,000 slaughter oxen are locked in, requiring Meatco to continue feeding them.
At the same time, the abattoir is forfeiting the animals that normally would have gone directly from the feedlot to the abattoir.
The Okapuka feedlot is a significant linkage between producers and the Windhoek abattoir.
Thobias, for her part said that the Okapuka feedlot is a buffer used by Meatco to help farmers whose weaners are not of an acceptable weight as well as a mitigation measure for drought stricken farmers. She indicated that the abattoir’s operations would not be affected by the temporary closure of the Okapuka feedlot.
She also referred the Economist to the Directorate of Veterinary Services to establish how long it intended the feedlot to remain closed.
“The Okapukua feedlot is a major contributor to Meatco’s position as Namibia’s largest beef exporter. The feedlot receives cattle from producers across Namibia and we keep them in our feedlot for 60 to 100 days before we slaughter.
The Directorate of Veterinary Services conducts quarterly routine sampling at our feedlot as per their surveillance programme,” Thobias explained.

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