Thin cows walking in field
Thin cows walking in field

Food, glorious food: The impact of drought on working animals

SPANA vet Hannah Davies went to Ethiopia to see the devastating impact its drought is having on working animals.

‘What’s for dinner? I’m starving!’ I often hear myself saying these words, but I don’t think I really appreciated the true meaning of ‘starving’ until I visited the cattle in the village of Dudub in Ethiopia.

There is nothing for these animals to eat. Failure of rains over the last year has created a devastating situation; the ground is dry, the grass cannot grow, the cows are literally starving to death.

Starving thin cows on the street

I have seen and examined many thin cows as a vet in the UK; but there was something different about these thin cows in Ethiopia. They are so well cared for; clean coats, no wounds, well-kept feet, beautiful extravagant horns; the importance of these animals to the villagers is so obvious.

The community here are pastoralists; people rely on their cows as a source of milk to feed their families and for financial security. Cows are considered a vital part of the family; without them, the future for these people is bleak.

So how is SPANA going to help? We have launched an emergency feeding programme where we will provide bales of hay and bags of feed to some of the poorest families in Dudub.

Man feeding thin cows

Each family will receive a feed ration every 15 days providing essential nutrients to their animals. With SPANA’s support, we hope that this feeding programme will go a long way to help to save the lives of cattle and the livelihoods of the Dudub community.

For the latest updates on our emergency feeding programme in Ethiopia, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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