Appropriate Farm Practices for Dairy Animals during Extended Dry Spell
Ching M. Lumanta
A hot environment can cause discomfort and stress in farm animals. This holds true for dairy animals like cattle carabaos and goats. Reduced productivity and mortality are the common offshoots.
Generally, stress can lower the animal's resistance or immune system making them, prone to diseases. A dairy animal under stress will perform poorly- which translates to less gain in weight, lower milk production or higher incidences of reproductive failures as the case maybe. The farmer can only do so much except to relieve the animal's discomfort from the extremely hot weather.
The following are practical tips that dairy farmers can do to reduce the negative effects of heat stress:
· Provide cool drinking water at all times to prevent dehydration and to help them regulate body temperature
· Allow maximum air circulation or ventilation inside the barns or pens
· Reduce stocking density: allow a 2x3m2 space for dairy animals if inside the pens to allow free movement
· Cull unproductive herd
· Give more feeds during the cooler parts of the day (early morning, late afternoon or night)
· It is best to give vitamins and electyrolytes to the water early in the morning so that the animals get the needed boost before the temperature gets warmer.
· Remove accumulated manure. Accumulated manure builds up toxic gases that could aggravate the already stressful condition.
· Provide salt licks in tubes or blocks to help the animals maintain their electrolyte balance
· Allow dairy animals to cool in rivers or mud wallows in the case of buffaloes to dissipate body heat. This can provide cooling effect.
· bring tethered animals under the shade when the heat in the open starts to get intense
· For cattle and carabaos used as draft animals, schedule work( Land preparation. cultivation, hauling, etc.) early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
· For breeders and lactating animals, injecting them with vitamins A,D.E and B complex are recommended. This will help them boost their resistance to diseases and increase feed intake.
· feed ruminants with crop residues and food processing by-products such as copra cake; "sapal ng niyog"; pineapple peelings; "Soya bean extracts; banana trunks, leaves and prunings; residues from newly harvested crops; and rejects from convenience or snack food processors. When available, sprinkle crop residues with molasses.
· Shear or trim coats to enhance dissipation of body heat and lighten the animals load.
· Remove piles of manure inside or under the pen if ruminants are under confinement
PCAARD Farm News No. 6933 January-March 2014