By Gloria Nakiyimba
Ugandan farmers stand to miss out on the opportunities available in international market for animal products if they continue to ignore animal welfare issues. Doctor Victor Yamo , humane and sustainable Agriculture campaign manager at World Animal Protection Kenya, says farmers have to divorce themselves from poor animal keeping practices in order to increase productivity at the farms and access international markets that pay well for animal products.
According to Dr. Yamo, like human beings, animals too have freedoms they must enjoy on the farm. The five basic animal freedoms are; Freedom from hunger and thirst. Animals must be fed well with whole nutritious meals and given enough water. Animals should not suffer from mal nutrition while on the farm. Dr. Yamo says a well fed cow, can provide more milk, meat, the same applies to pigs and chicken. Layer er chicken fed with right food he says give off more eggs compared to malnourished ones while well fed broilers gain required weight effortlessly.
Animals also enjoy freedom from discomfort, both physical and thermal. Farmers are advised to provide appropriate shelter for the animals and comfortable resting place. He says animals should not be squeezed in small shelters where they are can easily stampede and eventually die.
For instance chicks hoarded in a small room end up dying or eating one another which is usually a loss to a farmer. Freedom from pain and injury. Dr. Yamo says farmers should be able to make quick diagnosis and provide treatment to sick animals as well as prevent disease from attacking the animals which would affect their productivity.
If a farmer wishes to make good profits, he should provide sufficient and proper space for the animals to express their normal behaviors. Dr Yamo says poultry birds should be able to perch, and enjoy a dust bath than being caged in small houses where their freedom to express their natural behavior is abused.
Animals are sentient beings and must enjoy freedom from fear and distress. A farmer should show some love to the animals. All animals under human control including hens, pigs, cattle, dogs, cats et cetera must enjoy these freedoms for the farmer to be able to reap big from them.
Ugandan farmers should abandon certain poor practices which animal welfare protection movement says could end up making the country’s animal products blacklisted from the international market.
Dr Yamo says the practice of hording cattle in a lorry and tying their tails is one of the most inhumane treatment of animals. He says by the time these animals get to the slaughter house, they are distressed, and release hormones that make their meat not suitable for international market consumption.
Another inhumane animal practice is that of chaining chicken on boda bodas with their heads looking down and transporting them on top of commuter taxes while they are tightly tied which is not allowed under animal welfare.
Doctor Yamo reveals that international restaurants like fast food restaurants like KFC, Burger King, and Carrefour among others are now demanding for cage free animal products.
They are now demanding for cage free chicken, eggs as they seek to give quality products to their clientele which keeps growing every day.
This is because of the increasing demand for organic foods including organic meat, eggs, milk, and pork.
Ugandans must tap into such ready markets by meeting the set standards for poultry, dairy, and pig farmers.
Speaking at training by World Animal Protection group in Kampala, Sylvia Baluka the president of the Uganda Veterinary Association advised Poultry farmers not to allow people to visit chicken houses in order to prevent their birds from getting diseases.
In her opinion visitors carry pathogens to the chicken house which exposes them to diseases. Veterinary officers are also warned against using the same gumboots and overall coats on different farms makes animals prone to infections.
It instead recommended that vets ask farmers to provide these gadgets to avoid hopping from one farmer to another in the same working gears.