22 Sep 2016 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 22 SEP (NAMPA) The Okapuka feedlot has been closed indefinitely after two bulls tested positive for Zeranol in urine samples collected by the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS).
Zeranol is used mainly as an anabolic agent in veterinary medicine and as a growth promoter in livestock.
The DVS in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry announced, in a letter dated 02 September 2016, the restricted movement of the 8 000 cattle in the feedlot pending results of analysis of the samples.
The letter was signed by Chief Veterinary Officer Milton Maseke and addressed to the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) which owns the feedlot.
The restrictions on the feedlot will only be lifted when two consecutive negative results of the entire herd are obtained. The residue testing will continue until the tests for four consecutive, separate shipments are negative.
These consecutive findings are necessary to demonstrate the establishments determination to continue to purchase animals that do not contain violative residues is justified, he cautioned.
It takes about four months to get test results. The feedlot could be put under quarantine for over eight months if two negative results are obtained.
The carcasses or products shall be placed on hold pending the results of analysis of the samples. Any results showing that the maximum residue limit has been exceeded must lead to the carcasses or products concerned being declared unfit for human consumption, Maseke added.
All cattle in the feedlot will be branded with the special brand mark for repeat violations. More samples will be collected at four-monthly intervals from the affected animals.
This is not the first time the feedlot was put under quarantine. In April this year, DVS ordered the meat processer to put business on hold after it took urine samples from cattle that indicated the presence of Zeranol.
In May 2016, the DVS temporary lifted the quarantine pending the final outcome and instructed the feedlot to resume its usual operations.
Meanwhile, at a media conference on Thursday, Meatco Chief Executive Officer Vekuii Rukoro said the decision taken by the DVS is harsh and excessive, adding it will have dire consequences for producers as well.
Farmers are no longer bringing cattle to the feedlot. This has serious implications not only for our farmers but also for the whole country. This feedlot is a lifeline for farmers and if the issue is not addressed as soon as possible, some farmers will go bankrupt, he noted.
Rukoro warned that if the situation at the feedlot continues over the next eight months, a total of 500 workers will lose their jobs. Losses for the company over the next eight months are estimated at about N.dollars 140 million, he said.
A meeting between the DVS and the Meatco board on the matter is slated for Friday.