By Dr Wathe Nzau.
Kitul County has made history to be the pioneer county in Kenya to address the issues of animal welfare in matters about transportation from local markets to slaughterhouses in line with laws of Kenya Cap 360(cruelty to
Animals have been crisscrossing the entire county from market to market and in the process, they lose between 30%-50% of body weight through trekking and exhaustion leading to big losses to the traders and livestock farmers in kitui County.
The trekking of animals for long distances infringes on animals welfare and sometimes the trekkers also subject the animals to cruelty thereby breaking the law Cap 360 (cruelty to animals Act).
According to the meat Control Act cap 356, animals intended for slaughter are supposed to rest for at least 24 hours and be watered before slaughter. This action
is not practical where there are challenges of transport from markets to slaughterhouses.
Resting animals before slaughter have the following advantages:
i). Make meat soft & tender because of less lactic acid which accumulates in muscles when animals trek for long distances leading to fatigue & exhaustion of animals.
ii).Resting animals before slaughter prolongs meat shelf life. Accumulation of lactic acid during trekking of animals to slaughter make meat decay very fast hence the dire need for resting animals for at least 24 hours before slaughter.
Movement of animals along the roadside is discouraged by Animal Disease Control Act Cap 364, because it is one major reason for spreading animal
diseases from one area to another.
“if a sick animal treks for example from Mutha livestock market to Kitui slaughterhouse and maybe the animal has
asymptomatic Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), the disease will be left along with all the areas the sick animal passes causing a lot of damage to other livestock keepers along the route”.
If the animal was picked at the initial market by lorry and taken straight to the slaughterhouse, the spread of the disease will be contained.
By providing trucks for the transportation of livestock, the County has addressed four
major thematic areas:
I). Animal welfare & cruelty to animals (Cap 360-Cruelty to Animals Act)
ii). Livestock disease control (Disease Control Act Cap 364)
III). Safe, tender & palatable meat (meat control Act Cap 356)
v). Economic impact:- Farmers get the good market value of their livestock. During prolonged drought, livestock offtake can be actualized by transporting weak animals for slaughter.