Remove all poor performing livestock during drought

Careful livestock management is called for in times of drought, according to Dr. Danie Odendaal, Ruminant Veterinary Association of South Africa (RuVASA) CEO.

- Advertisement -

He said it was vital that the reproductive status of all animals be ascertained and to manage herds and flocks accordingly.

Breeding females must be tested for pregnancy and unproductive animals must be culled to contribute to the sustainability of the farming business. Supplying feed supplements to unproductive animals makes poor economic sense because the cost of these supplements could amount to as much as R15/animal per day.

“It makes much more sense to remove the ‘passengers’ to benefit the rest of the animals,” said Odendaal.

- Advertisement -

He also recommended that all calves and lambs be started on supplementary feed or creep feed as soon as possible. By weaning young animals earlier the stress will be taken off the suckling females.

It’s much more effective to feed animals directly than to ‘channel’ the feed through milk, said Odendaal. The weaned animals can be marketed earlier, lessening input costs and adding to much needed income during a drought.

“It makes financial sense to keep and feed animals with the same reproduction status in the same groups. Unnecessary competition for food is avoided in this way,” said Odendaal.

He advised that livestock be treated for liver fluke and nematodes while infestations are relatively low because of the dry conditions.