North Korea suffers mass deaths of grass-fed goats 

Goats in North Korea
North Korea is actively encouraging farmers to raise goats to increase livestock production. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

Despite North Korea’s attempts to increase the number of goats and other animals in the country, Daily NK sources have reported that state efforts are failing and many animals are dying of various diseases. 

On Thursday, Daily NK learned from a source in South Pyongan Province that goats at the Sebyul Collective Farm in Sunchon began dying in August from a strain of bronchitis.

Nine years ago, the collective farm had increased the number of goats under its care to 300, but the entire population is now facing all sorts of diseases and many are even dying. 

“Some of the goats suffer from parasitic diseases along with tick-borne diseases, which has led to the deaths of some of the animals,” the source said, adding that the farm’s unsanitary conditions contributed to the deaths. 

Other sources in the area report that the farm failed to clear a nearby field used for grazing by the goats of poisonous plants or to conduct any other measures to ensure the field was fit for the animals. Locals have reportedly blamed the animals’ deaths on the farm’s failure to take preventative measures against disease in the first place. 

During North Korea’s rainy season from late July to September of this year, baby goats at the farm started dying off due to an unknown disease that caused diarrhea, another source in the area told Daily NK.

“Around 70% of the baby goats at the farm died. Only a few remain,” the source added.  

North Korea has faced epidemics afflicting its livestock population over the last year ranging from foot-and-mouth disease to, more recently, African Swine Fever.

Despite these challenges, state officials continue to encourage farmers to raise “grass-fed livestock” as part of broader efforts to have North Koreans solve their own food shortages and help the economy. 

Thursday’s edition of the Rodong Sinmun published five articles on its third page focused on encouraging farmers to produce more “meat and eggs” by putting more effort into raising livestock. 

In early September, the newspaper published articles emphasizing the need to create grassy fields for grazing, along with articles heaping praise on farms that have successfully raised their animals. 

The September 1 edition of the newspaper ran an article calling on the entire populace to mount a “campaign” to increase livestock production, along with encouraging the entire nation to “cultivate grass-fed animals.”

This campaign has included the government encouraging the cultivation of rabbits, something that experts say generally happens during severe food shortages and famines, such as the Arduous March period of the 1990s. 

Echoing statements made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year, the September 1 edition of the Rodong Sinmun also extolled the party’s policy to increase livestock production through the mass cultivation of grass-fed animals as the  “best policy to resolve our country’s livestock problems” and emphasized the need to create grazing areas and fertilization and management practices. 

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