Veterinary science and livestock management: the case of South Africa c1880-1950

Karen Brown (Oxford University)
Human, plant and animal health
Start time:
12 September, 2006 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:


Long abstract:

These papers look at the important subject of pastoral farming and livestock management in South Africa. Livestock have been an essential feature of the South African economy at both commercial and subsistence levels, and from the 1870s various South African governments sought to increase output by establishing veterinary departments, dedicated to work in both the field and the laboratory. The development of vaccines and immunological techniques in Europe from the 1880s spawned the establishment of bacteriological facilities in the Cape and Transvaal where veterinary scientists investigated infections and designed new vaccines to cope with South Africa’s own disease environment. By 1900 it had also became clear that ticks conveyed a number of serious infections to livestock, the most dangerous being East Coast fever in cattle. Technological research resulted in the development of arsenical dips to kill infective ticks and the introduction of state regulated dipping in many areas, which had a dramatic impact on animal management. Controlling contagious and infectious diseases also entailed government regulation of livestock movements and the periodic enforcement of quarantines. These disease control measures contributed to the gradual demise of transhumance, a strategy that African and settler farmers had long used to ensure livestock had all year access to water and grazing. Collectively the papers look at scientific research into a number of serious livestock diseases and reflect upon the impact of preventative measures on pastoral farming and rural development.