Cattle traders in the district were busy fattening their cattle using harmful steroids in a bid to make a quick buck during the Eid-ul-Azha, a festival when Muslims sacrifice millions of cattle across the country.
Although the use of steroids and harmful drugs for fattening cattle was prohibited under the Fisheries and Livestock Act 2010, some cattle farmers were still using them to make their animals attractive to customers and to make extra money.
As farmers often use high doses of antibiotics and steroids, the meat of these animals contain remnants of the chemicals which harm kidneys, liver, heart and other organs upon consumption, according to experts.
Officials at the Department of Livestock Services, however, claimed that farm owners received training from the department and were rearing their cattle without using harmful chemicals.
They said that several hundred cattle farms were set up in the district to supply sacrificial animals to different parts of the country. Some of those who were unemployed had chosen to get involved in the business to earn money and support their families while some others were there out of natural interest.
This year, some 78,686 animals including cattle, goats and buffalos were ready for the Eid-ul-Azha in seven upazilas of the district, according to the Department of Livestock Services.
Following the high demand of ‘shankar’ breed and country breed cows, the farmers are nurturing such varieties of cattle in their farms for around a year.
Officials at the department said that the farmers had raised and tended to some 3,692 animals in Sadar upazila, 9,607 in Kalaroa, 13,439 in Tala, 1975 in Ashashuni, 1467 in Debhata, 4310 in Kaliganj, 4975 in Shyamnagar upazilas of the district.
Due to the rise in the meat price, people took up cattle rearing by building small farms while most people already reared cattle at home in the district.
As per official statistics, there were some 10,552 cattle farmers, but unofficial sources claimed that the actual number will be much higher.
Rabiul Islam, a farm owner of village Nalta in Tala upazila, said that he had looked after 12 cows last year and made good money by selling them. ‘This year, I’ve 15 cows in my shed and I expect a better profit,’ he said.
Abdus Samad, another farmer in the village, said, ‘I’ve kept six cows ready for sale. I usually feed them oilcake and other fodder items. Although the price of fodder is higher than the previous year, I have continued to feed them with the fodder.’
Ranjit Kumar Mandal, an official at Kaliganj agricultural office, said that some 76 per cent of the total demand for protein in the country was met from animal resources. ‘Cattle nurtured here can meet the demand of the entire district,’ he added.
He also said that if the government took necessary steps to check the entrance of Indian cattle, the farmers of the district would benefit by selling their own cattle during Eid.
Samaresh Chandra Das, an official of Satkhira DLS, said that the farmers were given all necessary advice on how to bring up their animals in addition to providing them with medicines.
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