Incidence of Reproductive Wastage

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Published on International Journal of Agriculture & Agribusiness
Publication Date: July 4, 2019

Ekeocha, A. H., Aganga, A. A., Odumboni, A. A. & Aribamibi, A. B.
Federal University Oye Ekiti
Ekiti State, Nigeria

Journal Full Text PDF: Incidence of Reproductive Wastage (Case in Ikole Ekiti Abattoir).

Limited information exists on the magnitude of feotal wastage in slaughtered cows in Ekiti State. A six-months (February-July 2018) investigative study was conducted to gather information about the incidence of foetal wastage in slaughtered cows in Ikole-Ekiti, Ekiti State. The total number of cows slaughtered during the period was 908, reflecting an average monthly kill of 50 cows and daily slaughter of 3 cows from the three central abattoirs observed. The results showed that at least one out of every thirty-three (1:33) cows brought to the herd is possibly pregnant. Of the total number of fetuses culled during the survey, approximately 55.56% percent of them were females and 44.44% percent were males. Concerning body length, the length of the female fetuses was longer than the body of the male foetus. The longest average lengths of female fetuses were recorded in the month of April (26.47), June (23.40) and July (28.70) respectively. Meanwhile, the longest average length of male fetuses were recorded in the month of March (13.80), April (16.93), and June (19.13) respectively. The length of the foetus can be used to describe the age of the pregnancy, which showed that some fetuses where observed even in the second and third trimester. However, this peculiar slaughtering were occurring more during the end of the dry season. 27 foetuses were observed during the period of the research, while approximately one pregnant cow was slaughtered monthly across the abattoirs. The highest number of wasted foetuses recovered from February to May, was in the month of April, the start of the raining season.The intentions for slaughtering pregnant cows ranging from cash constraint, inadequate capacity to diagnose pregnant cows, lack of enforced animal welfare legislation, and partly ignorance. Also, strict measures can be put in place to ensure that before any cow is slaughtered and proper routine inspection and examination be carried out on the cow to check for signs of pregnancy.

Keyword: Foetal wastage, inspection, pregnant cows & slaughter.

1.1 Background of the Study
Livestock is an essential resource in Nigeria, adding to improved nutritional status and the economic growth of their owners. In many African countries, livestock also plays many roles, ranging from draught power to provision of manure, milk, and meat (Raimi et al., 2017).
In Nigeria, some of the limitations of livestock productivity include poor unbalanced feeding, high disease prevalence and associated high neonatal mortality. Scarce breeding and husbandry system constitute significant obstacles to the promotion of large scale holdings of livestock (Okeudo, 2004).
Maxwell et al., (2006) stated that proper economic management of animal demands that those sold for slaughter should be males and females that are reproductively inactive. Information on the reproductive status, breed, and weight of animals sent for slaughter should be continually evaluated to avoid wastage through the slaughtering of reproductively active females.
Nwakpu et al. (2007) observed that most abattoirs in Nigeria are not modern abattoirs where proper antemortem examination can aid the elimination or point –out unfit animals. Ante-mortem inspection is not usually carried out, therefore; resulting in a high incidence of slaughtered pregnant animals.
Demographic figures indicate that there are 19.5 million herds of cattle in Nigeria. The meat and milk obtained from this animal constitute the significant sources of animal protein to a more substantial part of the population. Animal protein intake in Nigeria still falls short of the 69g person per day recommended by FAO (2013). There is a need for increasing animal production and slaughter (Adesokan et al., 2012) due to a shortfall in animal protein contribution to per caput food availability of Nigerian (FAO, 2013).
There is a lack of modern facilities in a lot of abattoirs and meat processing plants in Nigeria. Also, the beef inspective service centers are not optimal, resulting in the consumption of unwholesome meat by the public. This is a major concern to all stakeholders in the industry and the general public. Pregnant animals arebeing slaughtered in the abattoir on regular bases with marked loss of fetuses which constitute an economic waste. The most significantissue about slaughtering pregnant cows is that it limits the growth of the herd size and considerableeconomic wastage is practiced.
It is most uneconomical to continue the practice of slaughtering pregnant animals, a situation that significantly threatens the Nigeria livestock industry (Oduguwa et al., 2013). One possible factor contributing to the high rate of slaughter of pregnant cows is the season of the year. Often, rainy period coincides with active breeding season for most livestock species due to the availability of pasture and consequently high pregnancy rates.
Although globally, the practice of slaughtering different breeds of livestock has been sustained, the pregnancy status of the animal being butchered for meat remains a hideous issue in many countries (Warriss, 2008). The scenario of animal slaughter in abattoirs has shown that not only the conventional non-breeding livestock are slaughtered for meat but also the productive pregnant and lactating ones are not left out (Adama et al., 2011).
These animals are either killed for daily meats or occasionally for rituals, religious festivals, ceremonies, drug formulations, disease control or to meet immediate financial needs (Adesokan, 2010).
Livestock production is an essential aspect of agriculture because the crucial constituents of food needed for maintenance and tissue building in the body are limited in plants. Except for legumes, plant food does not contain adequate quantities of protein, and therefore animals are the chief source of protein to man; hence, the need to give extra encouragement to improve livestock production in Nigeria.
Agricultural Organization quantity of animal protein intake (3sg/person/day) and this is subject to several factors that account for the inadequate supply of meat in Nigeria, bringing less consumption of meat compared to plant sources of protein which are relatively cheaper. The animal product in the diet of an average Nigerian has been diminishing year after year due to marginal improvement in animal population and productivity (Oyenuga, 1987). This can be attributed to the gradual but steady loss of potentially healthy stock that is lost in the slaughter of these pregnant animals.
According to Mukasa et al. (2006), herd productivity may be affected by a wide range of disease problems and reproductive wastages. These effects may be manifested through abortions, mortalities as well as resources involved in controlling and overcoming the impact of these diseases.
The slaughter of pregnant animals has queried the efficiency of ante mortem inspections at the abattoir, proved the need for well-equipped Veterinary services for improved herd health management in the state and has frustrated the efforts of livestock husbandry system in increasing animal production to meet the growing demand for animal protein by a growing human population. (Ngbede et al., 2012).

1.2 Problem Statement
Lack of awareness of pregnant animals is a problem since farmers have less knowledge on pregnancy diagnosis (Fayemi and Muchenje 2013). Traditional cattle keeping involve extensive grazing system whereby cows and heifers are always mixed with bulls, and it is difficult for farmers to know when the animals are mated by bulls. Farmers in rural areas also don’t keep any records of their livestock. This ends on selecting any animal for sale and increases the possibilities of slaughtering pregnant animals.
Lack of enforcement of legislation against the slaughtering of pregnant cows in some wards, livestock markets and slaughterhouses where veterinary and livestock extension officers are available, if the pregnant cows and heifers were allowed to reach full term and calves’ financial value assessed at birth, the resulting losses are enormous. Furthermore, limited availability of veterinary and livestock extension services in rural areas of is another reason for selling of pregnant cows and heifers for slaughter.
The most significant effects about slaughtering pregnant cows’ lies in the fact that herd population sizes are reduced and enormous economic wastages are involved, leading to colossal reduction in the national herd, loss of dairy products as well as supply of inferior quality meat product to the general public (Alhaji, 2011). Farmers need to be educated on proper breeding and record keeping to overcome this problem. Again, at the livestock market; all animals need to be further examined for health and pregnancy beforebeing sent for slaughter. If veterinarians and livestock extension officers were available in all these setups would have significantly minimized possibilities for sending pregnant animals at the slaughterhouses.
An undesirable effect of this lapse in veterinary public health duties is the indiscriminate slaughter of pregnant animals (Garba et al., 2010). The slaughter of pregnant animals in rural abattoirs is becoming a severe constraint to future livestock population. The need for adequate human nutrition cannot be overemphasized; yet, acute protein malnutrition is endemic in most developing countries (FAO/WHO, 1983).
The economic recession that has been witnessed in Nigeria since the 1980s has brought in its wake a deterioration in the quality and quantity of animal protein in the diet of Nigerians. This has also dictated new trends in improving the situation. This has entailed the slaughtering of not only prime breeding males but also pregnant animals resulting in foetal wastages, as reported by different workers concerning camels, small ruminants and cattle (Ataja and Uko, 1994).

1.3 Justification
The indiscriminate slaughter of pregnant females and the consequent wastage of embryos and foetuses are regarded as primary destructive mechanisms that counteract food production efforts (Alhaji et al., 2015). The magnitude of foetal losses due to the slaughter of reproductively active dams has been reported among both large (cows) and small (ewes and does) ruminants from several abattoirs in the South West (Cadmus and Adesokan 2010), South East (Wosu and Dibua 1999), North Central (Alhaji 2011; Alhaji and Odetokun 2013), North West (Garba et al., 2010; Muhammad) and North East (Bokko 2011; Chaudhari and Bokko 2000) zones of Nigeria.
The practice of slaughtering pregnant ruminants has hurt the national herd size and total meat production, restricting the availability of animal protein. The associated economic losses constrain the contribution of livestock to the gross domestic product in the country (Alhaji and Odetokun 2013).
Substantial foetal calf wastage has been recorded at an abattoir in northern Nigeria (Alhaji 2011), which translated to an average annual financial loss of close to #104,835,000.00 (Ngbede et al., 2012). There is a need to investigate the reasons for the continuous slaughter of pregnant ruminants to predict associated trends and facilitate sound strategic planning and decision-making in combating future foetal livestock wastage in Nigeria.
Foetal wastage may constitute an obstacle to livestock production and economic development in Ekiti state and Nigeria as a whole. It is resulting in a direct decrease in the GDP of the state and country. Foetal wastage may also pose a health risk to health workers. The information obtained on foetal wastage and its control in our abattoirs may contribute in no small measure to increase the population of livestock in Ekiti state and Nigeria in general. Information obtained in this study will help relevant authorities and stakeholders understand the deteriorating effect of foetal wastage and how consumption of foetuses is promoting this undesirable practice in Nigeria and its impact on the country’s economy and overall welfare of the populace. It will also contribute to the knowledge on the health risks it poses to abattoir workers as well as the general public.
Adequate investigation of foetal wastage in Ikole Ekiti abattoir is necessary and imperative for practical and implementable control measures to be developed. Therefore, given the economic implication of foetal wastage to the economy and food security of our nation, there is a need for this study to fill the existing gap on the role of foetal wastage in Ikole Ekiti abattoir, Ekiti state, Nigeria.

1.4 Objectives
The objectives of this study were to: Determine the occurrence of foetal/reproductive wastage among slaughtered ruminants (mainly cows) in Ikole Ekiti abattoir, Ekiti state, Nigeria using passive and active data; and evaluate the magnitude of fetal wastages, and estimate the economic losses due to foetal wastage in Ikole Ekiti abattoir, Ekiti state, Nigeria.

1.5 Research Questions
a. Does foetal wastage occur among cows slaughtered at Ikole Ekiti abattoir, Ekiti state, Nigeria?
b. Does foetal wastage constitute an economic loss to livestock production in Ekiti State?

2.1 Description of Study Location and Climate
The research was conducted at three central abattoirs at Ikole Ekiti local government area, located at the north-east part of the state. The abattoirs provide the daily meat requirement of the inhabitants of the area and neighboring areas.
Ekiti state is situated entirely within the tropics. It located between longitudes 40ᵒ 51 ʺ and 50ᵒ 51 ʺ east of the green wish meridian and latitude 70ᵒ 151ʺ and 80ᵒ 51 ʺ north of the equator. The state is made up of 16 local government areas in which the total population of the state is 1,647,822. The state enjoys a tropical climate with two distinct seasons. These are the rainy season (April-October) and the dry season (November – March); temperature ranges between 210 and 280ᵒ C with high humidity. The south-westerly winds and the North East trade winds blow in the rainy and dry (harmattan season) respectively.
This present study was carried out starting from February 2018 to July 2018. At maximum operation, the abattoirs have a daily maximum handling capacity of 20 heads of cattle and other small ruminant animals. However, as a result of lack of maintenance and adequate facilities, it presently slaughters around 5 heads of cattle daily.

Figure 1: Map Showing Ekiti State, Nigeria, showing sixteen Local Government Areas

2.2 Study animals and design
The study animals were cows selected for slaughter from the three central abattoirs with in the area. More so, some animals were transported to the slaughterhouse while some, following the nomadic lifestyle of the farmer’s trekked to the slaughterhouses. The study design utilized was an active abattoir survey and live inspection, carried out from February to July 2018. The traded female stocks were our main interest in the survey because they are concerned with gestation and calving. After arrival at the abattoirs, the sex of cattle, slaughtered animals, and foetal wastage where documented in a purposively designed record sheet. Also, determining the location of the cattle’s was technically not possible for various issues, including poor farmer’s record and inadequate identification techniques at market points. Pregnancy test was ignored because of lack of necessary facility and technical knowhow in the abattoirs.

2.3 Meat inspection and Data collection
Primary Data was collected at three abattoirs whose GPS locations are latitude 7.7956832, 7.7956824 and 7.7950106, longitude 5.5179359,5.5179462 and 5.517608 with an accuracy of 2500.00, 2507.00 and 2299.999 in Ikole-Ekiti, the reason being that they slaughter ruminant animals more frequently and also because they are the only functioning abattoir in Ikole-Ekiti.
Regular meat examination was carried out by the resident abattoir meat inspector. Knives were used to cut through the uterus to retrieve the fetuses using well disinfected hands. Data collected where both ante and post mortem. Data were collected daily from 5-8:00am at the time most slaughter takes place. Data collected include: total number of cows slaughter daily, number of number of foetal-wastage, body length of female foetus, number of male foetal-waste, and length of male foetal waste.
Recouped fetuses were stratified into the classifications < 3 months (first trimester), 3-6 (second trimester) and > a half year old (third trimester) based on the length of the foetus body; this information was posted in the information accumulation frame intended for the reason.

2.4 Data Analysis
The data collected from February to July 2018 were entered, stored and analyzed using the Tukey statistical software. Descriptive statistics such as the mean of all slaughters, and the extent of foetal loss were generated. The percentage mean of foetal waste was solved as the number of fetuses recovered divided by the total number of cows slaughtered.

3.1 Slaughter Data
A total of 908 cows were slaughtered, reflecting an average monthly kill of 50 cows and daily slaughter of 2 cows from the three central abattoirs observed. As described based on outward appearance, 100% (908) of the cattle presented to the slaughterhouse were indigenous breed and above two years of age. The results on cows slaughtered and foetal wastage were compared across the three abattoirs were shown in table 1.
The mean of the total number of cows slaughtered was significantly different from each other, whereas the foetus wastes were insignificantly difference across the three central abattoirs. However, the body length of both female and male fetuses differed slightly in abattoir A (LFF 4.6663), (LMF 5.9388) and abattoir C (LFF 2.5449), (LMF 1.8927) respectively. This difference can be attributed unknowing the farm source and management care of the animals.
The numbers of male fetuses slaughtered were insignificantly different across the three abattoirs.

3.2 Incidence of Foetal wastage
The incidences of foetal waste were analyzed (table 1). The average loss from January to July 2018 was compared respectively. There was a monthly difference of foetal wastage at the abattoirs with highest incidence of foetus wastage in the month of March 2018.

Table 1: Incidence of Foetus wastage at the abattoirs from February to July 2018

P is significant at 0.05 NFS= Number of Female Cow Slaughtered, NFFO= Number of Female Foetus Observed, NMFO= Number of Male Foetus Observed LFFO= Length of Female Foetus Observed, LMFO= Length of Male Foetal-waste Observed.

Out of the three abattoirs, Odo Eran significantly slaughtered more cows than car wash 1 and car wash 2 respectively. Odo Eran had the highest number of foetus wastage in the month of May (4) and July (3), however, this means that Odo Eran had more slaughtering activities. This can be attributed to the size of the abattoirs and proximity to manageable infrastructure facilities. During the research, car wash 1 had no record of slaughtering pregnant cows except in the month of May (1). On the other hand, Car washes 2 witness the slaughtering of pregnant cows in February and April. However, only Odo Eran witness foetal wastage throughout the research period but was highest in the month of May.
The results reveal that at least one out of every thirty-three (1:33) cows brought to the abattoirs was possibly pregnant. Of the total number of fetuses culled during the survey, approximately 55.56% percent of them were females and 44.44% percent were males. This result is in line with Adama et al. (2010) who had higher incidence of higher female foetal wastage. Of the body length, the lengths of the female fetuses were averagely longer than the body of the male foetus. The longest average lengths of female fetuses were recorded in the month of April (26.47), June (23.40) and July (28.70) and in respectively, meanwhile, the longest average length of male fetuses were recorded in the month of March (13.80), April (16.93), and June (19.13) respectively.
The length of the foetus can be used to describe the age of the pregnancy, which showed that some fetuses where observed even in the second and third trimester. However, this peculiar slaughtering were occurring more during the end of the dry season.
27 foetuses were observed during the period of the research, while approximately one pregnant cow was slaughtered monthly across the abattoirs. The table revealed that some days had no wastage, while other where high. The highest number of wasted foetuses recovered from February to May, was in the month of April, the start of the raining season. The implication to this is that farmers where likely to take their cows to the abattoirs at the end of the dry season due to drastic shortage of food to feed their livestocks. Reproduction losses are vastly attributed as one of the crucial constraints to towards increasing cattle production, and foetuses loss as an outcome of slaughtering pregnant cows. Given the present livestock marketing setting within the area, it will be quite impossible to diagnose pregnant cows so as to avoid slaughtering the foetuses before they are calved and matured. Also, their intentions for slaughtering pregnant cows at different gestation period other than lack of technical knowhow or gross ignorance could be that livestock keepers sell pregnant cows because they appear to be larger and heavier, selling at a better price than the non-pregnant herd. Often, it is possible that many cattle keepers sell their meat for financial needs at the household and for children education.
The rise in slaughtering of cows months from February to April (Dry season), shows that the period is characterized by droughts, lack of fresh forages, which invariably exposes the animals to poor nutrition, diseases, especially those affecting the digestive system can push the keeper to slaughter the animals to avoid death or disease infection (Abdulkadir et al., 2008; Atawalna et al., 2013). However, the slaughtering of pregnant cows when the rains begin from May to July can be attributed to presence of festive ceremonies such as marriages, and traditional celebration.
Furthermore, some livestock keeping neighborhood believe that foetal meat is more nutritious than a matured cow meat, therefore increasing the demand for slaughtering pregnant cows to obtain their calves (Swai et al., 2015). Observation noticed from this research sternly reveals that the number of slaughtered pregnant cows and foetuses recovered where mostly in their second and third trimester which is in line with the report of Fayemi et al., (2008) who discussed that 75.7%, 74%, and 64.1% of the foetal waste collected respectively were not in their first trimester but second and third.
Whether with intentions or ignorance, the killing of pregnant cows has adverse consequences on the growth capacity of livestock herds in the country. Most importantly, the number of female waste obtained points a negative growth curve foe the opportunity to increase the future female breeding stock.