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Livestock experts seal agreement on cattle breeding rules

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has agreed on cattle breeding rules, its first on livestock production, according to a report by Reuters

The agreement was approved by OIE's 177 member countries, with the exception of South Africa, and included measures such as ensuring cattle health, breeding environment and genetic selection, OIE director general Bernard Vallat announced at the 80th General Session of OIE.

The terms of the OIE deal did not include data on the maximum and minimum temperature limits for the animals, hours of sunlight required and the soil quality best suited. Additives such as hormones or antibiotics were also left aside as the information was thought to be too divisive.

"The norms would be so complex that it would complicate discussions," Vallat said.

The rules would be harder to implement in intensive breeding, widely followed in the United States and Europe, where animals are confined, have little or no access to pasture and are fed in trough, Vallat noted

Scientists in the African continent have recognised that such longstanding approaches to the livestock management may have valuable lessons for countries prone to climate change. It encourages reintroduction and breeding of genetically diverse and resilient rare breeds like the African Anikole cattle.

The indigenous breeds could survive in extremely harsh and dry conditions. They don’t require expensive feed and inputs such as antibiotics to keep them healthy, scientists at the meeting pointed out.

OIE had tried to formalise a deal on livestock production rules on chickens last year, but divergences were too wide on issues such as the number of animals per square meter and food quality.