Stock theft, a problem that lost South African livestock owners R1,24 billion in the 2018/2019 financial year, might have a solution. A new project integrating DNA technology as part of livestock identification has been introduced to cattle farmers by the Gauteng Dept of Agriculture & Rural Development (GDARD) in Western Gauteng (Merafong, Rietfontein, Randfontein and Johannesburg).

The project is being run in conjunction with the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Livestock Identification Catalogue (LidcatTM), which permanently stores hair samples from animals along with bar-coded identification cards under optimal storage conditions. The use of DNA technology provides each animal with a unique DNA profile that does not change over time.

The DNA profile is captured in the ARC’s database and in the event of stock theft, animal identification or ownership disputes, the DNA profile can be compared to that of the animal in question. The GDARD funds have allowed samples of the livestock of 60 farmers in the region to be collected since the project began in April 2019.

According the ARC, response to the project has been very positive and it is calling on farmers and smallholders in the Western Gauteng region to participate. For more information, contact Dr Pranisha Soma at the ARC, Animals Production campus on 012 672 9218 or pranisha@arc.agric.za.

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