On Thursday, 19 May 2022, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) had to urgently intervene at the Agricultural Research Council Irene (ARC) after the NSPCA found over 1000 animals left without sufficient feed.

This followed a visit to ARC Irene by the NSPCA on 3 May 2022, after information was received by the NSPCA’s Animal Ethics Unit that research and production animals were being placed at risk of not being fed and treated due to ineffective and lackadaisical procurement methods for veterinary medicine and food.

The NSPCA found that the food supply was indeed close to depletion. What was also of great concern was the fact that cows who had been diagnosed with mastitis (which causes extreme pain in the udders if left untreated) were not being adequately treated because ARC Irene had failed to timeously procure the correct medication. Calves who were found suffering from diarrhoea were also being inadequately treated by ARC Irene.

A warning was issued to Professor Norman Maiwashe, the general manager for animal production.

It was made abundantly clear to the Professor that the medication prescribed by a veterinarian for the cows and calves must be procured as a matter of urgency, along with food for the animals on the premises.

The NSPCA is of the view that procurement inefficiencies should have been rectified by the ARC Irene a long time ago since this was not the first time that the NSPCA has had to issue a warning to timeously acquire food for animals. The Professor had acknowledged this fact and promised that feed and medication would be procured for the animals through emergency processes.

After enquiries to ARC Irene to determine whether animal feed and medication had been secured as promised, the lack of feedback and response resulted in a follow-up inspection taking place. The NSPCA was enraged to discover that food stocks had completely run out, and that inadequate treatment was being given to the sick animals, such as the cows with mastitis.   Ground staff at the facility were found trying to make ends meet by attempting to acquire alternate means of feed for the animals and using a mixture of whatever medication was available to treat sick/injured animals.

The ARC Irene is a semi-governmental Animal Production Institution. It is supposed to be a ‘flagship’ animal production institution providing training to agricultural students and setting the pace for others to follow. The lack of animal care is NOT the example ARC Irene should be setting.

“The nonchalant approach that ARC Irene appears to be taking to prevent their animals from starving and enduring pain is unacceptable.  As an established research and production facility their house ought to be in order to prevent animal suffering, ” said Inspector Lebo Sentle, Manager, NSPCA Animal Ethics Unit.

The NSPCA has been left with no choice but to inform the public of this disgrace and consider its options in terms of taking this matter further to prevent the animals from suffering.





Research Officer, Animal Ethics Unit, NSPCA.

079 879 9043


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