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Welcome to the May 2017 issue of the Red Meat Producers Organisation's Newsletter
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Additional measures for livestock exports announced by Namibia

The Meat Board of Namibia announced that from 1 May 2017 Namibian livestock may only be destined for destinations in South Africa as stated on the Veterinary Import Permit and subject to the conditions set by the respective Animal Health Certificates issued by South Africa.

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Awareness of predation issue must be built

The Predation Management Forum (PMF) will continue with its efforts of building awareness on the predation issue and marketing will be focussed on good practices and the fact that it is executed in an honourable manner, as was resolved at its last meeting.
T
he challenges relating to illegal hunting and stray dogs were also discussed as well as the identification of municipalities to be used as a pilot project to achieve the following:
  • Awareness between hunting as a commercial industry versus it being a social activity. The communities need to understand the impact of illegal hunting.
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Scientific assessment on predation undertaken

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, through the Centre for African Conservation Ecology, is undertaking a scientific assessment on the issue of predation on livestock in South Africa (PredSA).
This is being done in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs; the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (through the Red Meat Research Development Planning Committee); Cape Wools; and the SA Mohair Growers Association.
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Don’t buy blind!

Buying livestock at auctions is usually accompanied by excitement and expectations of animal improvement.
No farmer worth his salt will knowingly buy an obviously diseased or infected animal. However, there is a group of diseases that hide in apparently normal animals that can easily catch buyers out.
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Animal fat may actually lower cholesterol, newly discovered study finds

There’s an age-old assumption almost cemented as fact in the public consciousness: Vegetable fat is healthy fat, while animal fat is just plain old bad for you. It’s the reason why some vegetarians quit meat altogether while many dieticians say avocados are better than beef.
But thanks to a dead scientist who may also have doubled as a hoarder, everything we seem to know about the juxtaposition between fat found in vegetables and animals may actually be a lie. The raw findings of a study conducted nearly 50 years ago and revealed in the medical research journal BMJ shows "the benefits of choosing poly-unsaturated fat over saturated fat seem a little less certain than we thought," University of Queensland Senior Research fellow Lenner Veerman wrote.
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Perspective 

Have we made progress with cow efficiency in beef production systems?
Most costs in cow-calf production systems are due to cow maintenance and the production requirements for gestation and lactation, and since calf weight is the main output, the calf to cow weight ratio is an easy to understand measure of cow efficiency. Obviously, there are more elaborate measures which include more sophisticated factors, but for the purpose of this presentation the calf to calf ratio suffices, however extended over a number of years to cover yearly fluctuations.
Numerous factors affect cow efficiency, including cow maintenance, gestation and lactation feed requirements, calf maintenance and growth requirements, and calf weight. The most important one is reproductive performance.
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The Meat Safety Act and tails

The Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act 40 of 2000) is very prescriptive that the tail is not part of off-all and therefore tails must be kept attached to carcases.
Thus, tails are as such not specified and classified as off-all by law. Therefore, any producer is free to inform the abattoir that tails must be kept attached to the carcass.

Best butcheries announced

The country’s best butcheries, both nationally and regionally, were announced at a luncheon held in Johannesburg, attended by senior members of the meat production and retail industry, award finalists, judges and media.
This year saw six national and 39 provincial butcheries winning Platinum or Gold Cleaver Awards. Between October and December 2016, over 30 000 public nominations were received via SMS or online. Of these, 150 finalists were individually and anonymously assessed against a 212 point checklist, with some of the finalists scoring up to 99.8%.
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Statement of strategic intent published

The Red Meat Industry Day Working Group published a statement on strategic intent on its website.
The Working Group confirms its approach as an ideal seeking consensual expression of common interest in a landscape of peak organisations. It approach remains one of engagement with and through all organisations within the industry. It is not the intention of the industry task team to support or contemplate yet another structure within the red meat industry. Any potential implementation of structural changes within the industry, if required, should be the outcome of a strategic process embarked upon with and through the industry.
In a letter to the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) the group also expressed this viewpoint.

Lots of insect and tick transmitted diseases reported

Insect and tick transmitted diseases were rife during March, according to the monthly report on livestock disease trends as informally reported by veterinarians belonging to the Ruminant Veterinary Association of South Africa (RuVASA), a group of the South African Veterinary Association.
The following insect transmitted diseases were reported:
  • Lumpy skin disease
  • Three day stiff sickness
  • Blue tongue
  • African horse sickness
  • Anaplasmosys.
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Less stock support beef prices

Internationally, the reduction in availability of Australian and New Zealand beef are supportive to prices, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
 Domestically, lower feed prices and less livestock available are causing prices to increase. Beef prices are high due to reduced slaughter following high slaughtering during the drought. This season’s good rainfall has improved growing conditions and subsequently triggered herd building. This ultimately reduces supply of cattle.
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Mutton prices remain high

Internationally, the low global mutton inventories and continuing low supply are keeping market prices high, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
Locally, the outlook for lamb and mutton prices is positive, due to high meat prices and low feed costs supporting the industry. Good grazing conditions this season are encouraging the herd rebuilding phase, which reduce available supplies for slaughter.

International

The New Zealand lamb prices were mostly higher during the week of 19 April compared to the previous week. Lamb prices closed 2.59% higher at NZ$87.0⁄head for 15kg lamb.
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