It is this time of the year when the value of livestock goes up, obviously because of the festive season. It is a nightmare for farmers as thieves have started raiding villages, taking off with livestock. This includes cattle, goats, poultry and in some cases pigs.
During the Christmas season, cases of livestock theft are rife across the country, including in the cattle corridor, Luwero, Kiboga, Mukono, Kayunga and parts of eastern Uganda. The thieves most likely take the animals to the nearest slaughter houses.
If a farmer loses a mature local cow, that is over sh2m lost. If they lose an improved cow, that is over sh4m lost. If they loses layers, that is at least sh15,000 lost for each hen, minus the eggs it was supposed to lay.
Tips to guard your livestock
-Every animal must have a movement order signed by local veterinary officers. It should have specific description of the color and gender of the animal for avoidance of any doubts.
-Have your animals body marked for easy identification if they are stolen. Such markings are put on the skins. They can be initials of your farm name. Moses Mutagubya, a poultry farmer in Manyangwa managed to track his stolen layers at a poultry market in Kisaasi because of the unique way he had trimmed their beaks.
-Farmers must avoid selling animals late in the evening. Thieves use this chance to confuse farmers and steal their animals
-No animal should be slaughtered before 7am according to the new regulations. This is because there is need for certification from the area LC1 officer, plus a picture of the animal alongside the owner before the slaughtering is done.
-Movement of livestock at night has also been stopped, largely because it is clear that a lot of these are actually stolen animals.
– Local Leaders at each village should set up a 9-member livestock security unit that will patrol each village every night to stop the thieves. This unit should operate like the LDUs of the early 1990s which were quite effective against village crime.
-If you deal in poultry, do not allow buyers into your poultry house. Personally count the chicken that they have bought and hand them over outside the chicken house. Some chicken buyers confuse farmers during the counting.
-Separate the cattle or goats that you are selling from the main herd. This will stop possible thieving customers from accessing the herd in order to carry out their thieving ways.
-Get trained dogs at the farm to keep guard. These may chase away the thieves and also alert you about the intrusion. Dogs cost as low as sh100,000 (for local breed) and can stay on the farm for years.
-If your herd is big enough, invest in CCTV cameras. A three camera system costs about sh2m, certainly a farmer with over 10 cattle can afford this, because it is a one off purchase.
Certainly, if these measures are implemented stealing of livestock can be stopped.