News last update:6 Aug 2012

Pakistan: Aflatoxins fatal for dairy cows

The high feed costs made dairy farmers in Pakistan use old bread in the cattle diets. However, mycotoxins in this bread have caused a catastrophe, when 493 animals died in Karachi's Landhi Cattle Colony in November last year. More than 1,200 animals fell sick.

"A recently report released by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (pcsir) has concluded that deaths were caused by a high concentration of aflatoxin in cattle feed," says Hafeez Shaikh, a vet at the Landhi Cattle Colony.

Bad storage
Samples of dead flesh were sent to the Central Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Tandojam, Sindh, but no bacteria or virus was found. Experts such as Shaikh have an explanation for the toxicity caused by stale bread: "Usually, cattle feed comprises cotton seedcake, wheat bran, wheat crush, pulses, wheat straw and green fodder.

But these days, farmers have to mix this with stale bread collected from houses. The bread is often stored for long in godowns, where they become toxic." He says it is time the government established a laboratory in the area for timely detection of toxins in cattle feed besides establishing certified feed mills across Sindh province.

Not the first time
Toxic food had affected Landhi Colony earlier as well. "In 1997, cotton seedcake poisoned by excessive pesticide use killed many animals," says Mohan Lal, executive district officer, livestock and animal husbandry, city district government, Karachi, who has been suspended for negligence after the Landhi incident.

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