Cuba: More Than 13,000 Cows Have Died in Villa Clara in 2023, a Third of Them Due to Malnutrition

Between non-compliances and deaths, the most critical municipalities are Manicaragua, Placetas, Santa Clara, Camajuaní and Ranchuelo. (Vanguardia)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 August 2023 — New data show the magnitude of the crisis due to the lack of food in Cuba: about 13,690 head of cattle have died in Villa Clara so far this year. Nineteen percent of the animals died from malnutrition and another 15% from digestive disorders, according to the official press on Tuesday.

If the numbers of cattle killed by deficient food and other unspecified causes are added to those that were victims of illegal ’sacrifice’ [slaughter], the figure rises to 18,413, in a province that began the year with 121,112 animals.

Among the factors that contributed to the poor nutrition of the animals are, Vanguardia reports, the lack of nutritious pastures in the province — only Camagüey province has worse conditions on this factor — the absence of sources of drinking water, and the lack of grains to complement the diet.

Of the total number of dead animals, 7,740 are classified as cows, yearlings (approximately one-year old calves) and heifers (young cows). The loss of these young animals is a blow to the reproductive and food production chain. This number does not include calves, says Vanguardia, without explanation.

Between non-compliance and deaths, the most critical municipalities are Manicaragua, Placetas, Santa Clara, Camajuaní and Ranchuelo, said the official portal Soy Villa Clara. In the entire province, only three territories showed discreet increases in the livestock mass: Corralillo at the head (780 animals), Remedios and Caibarién (whose figures were not revealed).

With these numbers, the authorities fear that by the end of this year, statistics similar to those of 2010-2011 will be reached, when the loss was 23,000 head.

The provincial birth plan aimed to reach 60% this year, a figure that the authorities consider “not low.” However, the province already has a delay of 2,331 births compared to what was planned in this period. The cause: lack of “the necessary artificial insemination.”

The newspaper estimates that very few places in the territory use modern methods and technologies to increase reproduction. Artificial inseminatiom also “guarantees the genetic improvement of the animal mass.” With natural mating the chances of increased births are reduced, and soon “there will be fewer females for milk  production and reproduction.”

Milk production, at critical levels on the Island, has also been reduced. Authorities estimate that about 1,394 breeders did not contribute milk in the last quarter. In the municipalities of Manicaragua, Cifuentes, Placetas, Ranchuelo and Camajuaní, the media reports, “specific cases of manifest non-compliance abound.”

Currently, only 64% of the annual production plan is satisfied, which this year already quantifies about 7,280,600 liters less than those that had been contracted in the province. Deficiencies in the territory forced producers to reduce, this August, the contracted amount to 5,991,100 liters per month.

This figure would mean a daily delivery of 193,300 liters. However, the forced reduction in the plan did not achieve the desired numbers. On the contrary, only 98,800 liters are being delivered per day.

In meat production, the statistics are not encouraging either. So far, only 78.2% of the demand for beef and 85% for horse meat have been met. The planting of food intended for animal consumption has suffered the same fate. “The plantations of grain are non-existent. What about soy? The crops are minimal, and when they are achieved, extraction of the oil costs more than the use of the waste for animal feed,” says Vanguardia. The silage (forage conservation process), he adds, “stands out by its absence.”

According to the media, despite the drought and other obstacles, at the end of July some producers delivered what was agreed and even exceeded the plan of liters of milk per cow. The solution it finds, however, does not lie in the protection of breeders from crime, or in the improvement of working conditions, much less in the delivery of food and machinery at affordable prices. A quote from Alberto López, governor of the province clarifies it: “There are producers who make fun of the managers,” he said, alluding to the high rates of livestock crime in the province.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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