Dr Hope Pachena, an animal health specialist at Bupo Animal Health, says a comfortable environment must be provided for live stock in these conditions. Where possible surroundings need to be covered, because animals waste feed on producing energy to keep them warm against the cold. If not provided, livestock stress can occur in, amongst others, cattle and sheep herds. Pachena says avoiding livestock stress is extremely important in winter months, as it can lead to livestock losses, while animal production can decrease. OFM News' Christal-Lize Muller spoke to Pachena...
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He says an adequate environment reduces the impact of cold weather on the animals. Besides changes in temperatures, what other factors of live stock stress are experienced during winter months. If not enough water or feed are supplied to live stock during cold winter months they are prone to produce less than expected.
Feed is therefor very important because with less feed to the animals they are not able to cope with cold weather conditions which will influence their production capability. Live stock losses then occur.
What type of feed is necessary during winter months? In Pachena's opinion most grass are not enough for animals to feed on. He says this is because less fodder is available from the pastures. That is why supplementary feed needs to be given to animals. In this case some cattle farmers prefer hay bales made from lucerne as a supplementary.
Can chicken manure be given to cattle? He says it can be given as a supplementary feed but farmers must be very careful and make sure the chicken dung is not taken from chickens that are fed with a coccidiostat agent like monensin. Dung from commercial breeders and layers instead of chicken broilers must be used, because chicken manure from broilers might contain anti-coccidiostats that might cause health problems to cattle.
What are common symptoms of livestock stress? It entails reduced production of animals, which need to be fed more and longer in the case of a feed lot, efficiency get reduced with extra costs. Animals also experience a loss of appetite because they can not feed with high stress levels. Stressed animals also get aggressive. He says animal diseases occur more as stressed animals are more prone to diseases. In this case medication is needed for treatment.
Pachena says livestock stress doesn't only affect adult animals but calves, and lambs as well.