Mr Vincent V. Nongcula
It is estimated that South Africa’s population will be above 65 million in 2050. Thus, food production needs to increase in order to alleviate poverty. However, infectious and non-infectious diseases affect livestock productivity, thereby hampering food supply. Non-infectious disease/conditions caused by the consumption of solid waste material are rarely reported. Hence, this study investigates the occurrence and type of indigestible foreign objects (IFOs) in the stomach of slaughtered cattle in two high-throughput abattoirs (n = 4424) in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study revealed that metallic and non-metallic indigestible objects had an overall prevalence of 63% in cattle slaughtered in Queenstown abattoir (QTA, (n = 1906)) and 64.8% at the East London abattoir (ELA, (n = 2518)). Most of the IFOs were found in the rumen (64.2% and 70.8%) and reticulum (28.5% and 20.6%) at QTA and ELA respectively. The leading IFOs in the stomach of cattle at QTA were plastics (27.7%), poly bezoars (10.7%) and ropes (10.7%), while poly bezoars (19.8%), ropes (17.6%) and stones (10.7%) were the main IFOs seen in cattle at ELA. The study showed a statistical significance (p < 0.05) between body condition score and the prevalence of indigestible objects in cattle. This implied that meat production is affected by ingestion of solid waste materials. The study concluded that litter and waste containing IFOs could pose a threat to livestock health and productivity. The practice of good animal husbandry and efficient solid waste management will mitigate the problem of animals consuming IFOs.