Livestock farmers across the country are now busy fattening cattle as just one week is left for Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest festival of Muslims when over one crore cattle are sacrificed across the country by Muslims, Agencies report.
Although the use of steroids and harmful drugs for fattening cattle was prohibited by the Fisheries and Livestock Act 2010, dishonest livestock farmers are still using those to make their animals attractive to customers and thus make quick buck.
Farmers in Panchagarh were seen busy fattening their cows by adopting natural method, but an opposite scenario was prevailing in Sirajganj as a section of unscrupulous traders were involved in fattening their cattle by using harmful drugs.
Some 46,346 animals are expected to be put on sale in Panchagarh ahead of the Eid, according to sources at local Department of Livestock Services.
Of those, 26,846 are cows while 13,210 are goats, they said.
As per the advice of the Livestock Department, the farmers fed their cattle with oil cake, husk, and grass, avoiding harmful steroid and injection.
During a recent visit to different livestock farms, the UNB correspondent observed that four to five people are involved in taking care of cattle in each of the farms and they also maintain a chart for feeding cattle.
Ahmed Shafi, a livestock farm owner of Hafizabad in Sadar upazila, said, “I’ve prepared 40 cattle for selling them in our local cattle haat and invested around Tk 22,00,500 in the farm. I’m hopeful of making a good profit by selling those if the government takes effective measures to ensure import of Indian cattle.”
Shafiur Rahman, another farmer of Chaklahat of the upazila, said, “This year, I brought up 10 cattle in my farm for selling those ahead of Eid. Like the previous years, my cattle will be sold early as I don’t use any harmful chemical for fattening cows.”
Abdul Latif, a farmer of Bodaupazila, said this year’s fodder cost is higher than the previous year’s and that’s why he had to spend Tk 10,000 to 15,000 extra on each of his cows.
“I bought two cows at Tk 50,000 and those will be sold at Tk 75000-80000,” said another farmer, Abul Hossain, at Borobari in Sadar upazila.
Debashish Das, an officer at local Livestock Department, said there will be no crisis of sacrificial animal in local markets this time. “We had closely monitor the farms of the district and asked them to refrain from using harmful chemicals.”
Meanwhile, a section of unscrupulous farmers in Sirajganj were involved in fattening the sacrificial animal by using harmful drugs ahead of the Eid to make more money.
Locals alleged that the livestock farmers have been feeding harmful drugs locally known as ‘pam tablet’ for making those animals healthier as well as look attractive.
According to the Animal Feed Act 2010, the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids or other harmful chemicals in animal feed are strictly prohibited. For violating this law, a person might face up to one year’s imprisonment or up to Tk 50,000 in fine or both.
But, a section of traders have been using drugs like Dexamethasone, Betamethasone, Periactin and Oradexon for rapid fattening of the animals before the Eid.
The farmers in Shahzadpur, Ullapara, Enayetpur, and Belkuchi upazilas started using these banned drugs to fatten their cows three months ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha.
“The medicines they are using are used as painkiller,” Dr Shahjahan Ali, Upazila Livestock officer, told the UNB correspondent.
After injecting or giving such tablets, a cow starts responding very quickly and the consumption of meat of such cows is harmful, he added.
According to other experts, consumption of meat of artificially-fattened cattle may cause diseases like cancer, skin problems and even may lead to cardiac and kidney failure.
Excessive use of steroids and hormones such as Dexamethasone or Betamethasone and Periactin damage the liver, kidneys and intestines of the animal.
Officials at the Department of Livestock Services in Satkhira claimed that livestock farm owners received training from the department and they are rearing their cattle maintaining the healthy and normal process without using harmful chemicals.
They said several hundred cattle farms were set up in the district to supply sacrificial animals to different parts of the country.
Following the high demand of ‘Shankar’ breed and local ones, the farmers are nurturing such varieties of cattle in their farms for about a year.
Due to the rise in the meat price, people tend to start growing cattle by making small farms and most people in the district rear cattle in their houses, too.
Abdus Samad, another farmer of the village, said, “I’ve kept six cows ready for sale. I usually feed oilcake and other fodder items. Although the price of fodder is higher than the previous year, I maintain those.”
The country is expected not to face any shortage of cattle during the Eid-ul-Azha this year as the supply of locally-reared cattle is quite enough to meet the demand of sacrificial animals, said officials.
According to the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry, there are now 1.16 crore sacrificial animals in the country for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha against last year’s 1.04 crore.
The ministry also said there are 44.57 lakh sacrificial cattle and buffalos while 71 lakh goats and sheep across the country.
The number of healthy sacrificial cows and buffalos is 29.20 lakh while that of goats and sheep is 18.26 lakh and the rest are unproductive animals.