Appropriate Practices for Livestock during Dry Spell
A hot environment can cause discomfort and stress in farm animals. Reduced productivity or mortality are the common results. Stress, in general lowers the animals' resistance or immune competence., making them more susceptible to diseases. An animal under stress will perform poorly which translates to less gain in weight, lower milk production and higher incidences of reproductive failures.
There is not much a farmer can do about long period of dry spells except to relieve the animals' discomfort from the extremely hot weather.
The following are practical tips to reduce the negative effects of heat stress:
For Cattle, Buffalo, Goat and Sheep
- 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 pens.
- Insulate galvanized iron (GI) roofing with appropriate local materials such as ice straw, cogon blades and coconut fronds
- Reduce stocking density to give more space for animals and reduce generated heat within the pens.
- Cull unproductive or undesirable animals
- Give more feeds during the cooler parts of the day (early morning, late afternoon or at night) and provide them with vitamins and electrolytes . It is best to give these early in the morning so that the animals get the needed boost before the temperature gets warmer.
- Remove accumulated manure or dung. Heat is generated in decomposing manure. vaccinate the animals to protect the animals from viral diseases.
- Provide salt licks in tubes or in blocks to help animals maintain their electrolyte balance.
- Allow buffaloes to cool in rivers or mud wallows to dissipate body heat. This provides cooling effects to the animals.
- Bring tethered animals under the shade when the heat in the open gets intense. For cattle and buffaloes used as draft animals, schedule work (land preparation, cultivation, hauling etc...) early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
- For breeder 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, "sapal ng taho" ; Banana trunks and leaves and prunings; residues from newly harvested crops; rejects from convenience or snack food processors, Sprinkle molasses when available.
- Shear or trim the wool of sheep to enhance dissipation of body heat and lighten the animals' load.
Reference: PFN No. 6933-jan-March 2014
PCAARRD-DOST Information Bulletin No. 331/20102010