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Questions over cattle deaths at Minard

Published:Wednesday | December 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Minard Estate

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is scrambling to cauterise the worrying situation at the Minard Beef Cattle Station in Brown's Town, St Ann, which, in recent times, has claimed the lives of at least 50 head of cattle.

The Gleaner has learnt that 18 head of cattle of varying breeds and ages succumbed to nutrition-related problems manifested in organ failure and other ailments. Another 30 animals suffered a similar fate in October, raising serious questions about the general management oversight and day-to-day operations of the 1,000-acre property.

Operated under the auspices of Agro-Invest Corporation, a business-facilitation unit within the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Minard has been beset by a multiplicity of issues associated with animal nutrition on the under-resourced property for years, the ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

"The Minard Estates Farm ... experienced intense and protracted drought conditions during 2018, which intensified in the summer months. During this period, animal mortality at Minard Farm increased from a combination of nutrition-related problems, heat stress, and health complications for animals that were exposed to the previous, albeit less intense, drought of 2014. Older animals that were exposed to the 2014 drought and orphan calves were particularly vulnerable to the drought conditions and comprised the majority of mortality cases," said Doreen O'Connor, director of communication and public relations in the agriculture ministry.

"In addition, the farm has been operating beyond the carrying capacity of its pastures, which provide only marginal resilience to any disaster that disrupts the regrowth and rotation of the pastures," O' Connor stated via email to questions sent more than a week ago.