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August 21,2018

Use of cattle-fattening steroids rings alarms

Munawar Hasan

LAHORE: The rampant ill-advised use of steroids and other drugs for fattening sacrificial animals is sparking health concerns among buyers.

Unfortunately, no action is being taken by concerned authorities against illegal use of steroids. The traders of sacrificial animals who do not use such drugs are wary of the fact that they face challenge of selling their naturally-reared animals while competing with artificially-fattened goats and cattle.

Free grazing of fodder and grains are considered sufficient and a relatively inexpensive way to raise sacrificial animals. But, for short gains, many do not follow such practices.

The illegal use of drugs is injustice to the livestock farmers who believe in practices of prescribed animal fattening as well as to animals and the buyers, keeping in view its negative effects. The animals administered with such steroids even cannot properly walk. The effects of such drugs make them dull.

It is alleged that steroids like dexamethasone are ruthlessly administered to sacrificial animals for swift weight gain. Its use for animals is not suitable but unfortunately no action is being taken against rampant use of such drugs.

Driven by the motive for making quick money, animal traders are allegedly using excessive harmful steroids and hormones to fatten cattle being sold in the sacrificial animal market, posing a threat to public health, they alleged.

They claimed that some organs of animals including kidney and liver don’t properly function due to impact of such drugs, increasing water holding capacity of animals.

Alas, the rapid method of cattle fattening even may end up killing them.

Such sacrificial animals would not eat much after their selling to buyers as effects of ill-advised drugs wane with passage of time, leaving them vulnerable to diseases. The sale of steroid-fattened cattle should strictly be monitored and punitive action must be taken against those involved in this heinous and unethical practice, livestock farmers said.

Dr Muhammad Aleem, a retired professor of University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences said drugs of dexamethasone group are not advised for the purposes of animal growth promotion. It is illegally used by some sellers to enhance fatness and appetite in animals in the short run.

Aleem said the side-effects of such drugs are seen in the shape of excessive grazing by the goats and animals. The Livestock and Dairy Development Department Punjab is least prepared against the use of the steroids.

“If sellers of sacrificial animals use steroids we cannot say anything about it,” a senior official of the department said. Dr Asif Rafique, director Communication of the department, talking about steroid usage, if it is used by sellers of sacrificial animals, “we cannot stop this activity as it is very difficult to check each seller”.

Rafique clarified that the department does not use it for feedlot fattening nor advise others for the same. This drug is used in rare emergency situation for life saving purpose with a view to boost ailing animals. He argued against the use of dexamethasone for fattening of animals, especially goats. “I don’t think this steroid has any effect on weight gaining of animals,” he said.

Another official of the provincial Livestock Department said use of dexamethasone group drugs is not good for fattening animals. “We are taking strict action against use of such acts including use of hormones for enhancing milk production,” the official said, requesting anonymity.


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