Cattle sector suffers decline

By Hilary Mare

YEAR-OVER-YEAR, total marketing of cattle declined by over 21 percent during the first half of 2021 where 94 868 cattle were marketed compared to 126 752 marketed during the corresponding first half of 2020, the latest report by the Meat Board of Namibia reveals.

However, on a quarterly basis the decline was 9.54 percent.

“Overall cattle sector performance declined during the second quarter, lowering year-to-date performance further. This is likely to have an adverse effect on the overall performance of the livestock and meat industry,” the board said in the report adding that notable decline is mainly due to a reduced cattle herd following a prolonged drought period.

From the total cattle marketed, 61 percent were live exports, 25 percent were taken up by export abattoirs while B&C class abattoirs enjoyed 14 percent of the market share. Compared to 2020, B&C class abattoirs lost 3 percent of the market share towards live exports lost and export abattoirs which gained two percent and one percent, respectively.

“Up to 97.29 percent of all live cattle exported (on the hoof) were marketed to South Africa (56 118 heads out of 57 683) whereas Angola took up 2.69 percent (1 550 heads) of total live exports. Of these live cattle exports, almost all were weaners (the general categorisation of weaners includes weaners, tollies and heifers) while 96.57 percent were destined for South African feedlots, 3.43 percent for farming and none were exported to abattoirs,” further states the report.

Export approved abattoirs slaughtered 23 495 heads of cattle during the first half of 2021 whereas, throughput to export approved abattoirs during the corresponding half of 2020 stood at 29 783 heads of cattle, showing a decrease of 29.11 percent.

The report further states that although weaner prices in each month of the first and second quarter of 2021 remained higher than those observed in the same period of 2020, there has generally been a sustained decrease in weaner prices from January to June 2021.

Slaughter prices on the other hand stabilised during the second quarter.

“A temporary concession by the Botswana government allowing exports of cattle served to reduce weaner prices for South African feedlots which traditionally source the majority of required weaners from Namibia,” the report states. Despite the decline in weaner prices, Namibian prices on a bi-annual basis were still 23.77 percent higher in 2021 compared to 2020. On average the Namibian weaner traded at N$40.41 per kg during the first half of 2021, N$7.76 per kg higher than the 2020 level. On the other hand, weaner prices in South Africa averaged N$37.87 per kg during the first half, up by 29.50 percent from the 2020 level. The report also notes that despite a good performance in May and June, the sheep sector had a weak performance during the second quarter due to a slow start at the beginning of the quarter. The weak performance is linked to low throughput at both local and export-approved abattoirs.

Equally, pork sector marketing continued to show stability during the first and second quarters of 2021. An interventionist scheme exists and is managed by the Meat Board of Namibia to protect local producers from an upsurge of cheap imports into the local market by foreign producers.