Livestock farmers & agric shows

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WE are getting to the crop farming season and warning shots of an early season have already been sounded.

Districts and provincial agricultural shows have been held throughout the country.

My question is how can we make these agricultural shows stimulate competitive spirit and in turn promote good agricultural practices among farmers?

It is my contention that a lot still needs to be done so that agricultural shows are not merely calendar activities.

What you see is that year after year you almost have the same faces participating in these shows with very little new entries and this could be a sign that there are very few farmers who are going into their fields with a conscious mind of wanting to enter into an agricultural competition.

The situation is even more pronounced in the livestock sector where you could find one or two farmers participating and proudly walking away with position one and two and the prizes that go with it.

My feeling is that if these agricultural shows, say at district level, are well patronised and competition parameters communicated in advance, it could stimulate the number of participants for provincial shows or such shows as the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

I am aware that it takes resources to organise and hold such events and hence the need for organisers to approach the local business community and value chain players to sponsor some of the activities.

A local butcheries association can sponsor a prize for the best steer on the show for example and the extension workers can then define parameters that they will use for judging the best steer and send word out to farmers to compete based on the set criterion.

Local veterinary drug suppliers could sponsor a prize on animal health section, working with the department of veterinary services; the Zimbabwe Republic Police could sponsor a section on branding and anti-stock theft and so forth.

The point I am trying to make is that there are many sections within the livestock value chain which can be developed and sponsorship sought from relevant players.

There are many players within the livestock value chain who want to promote their brands for example, individual abattoir operators, abattoir associations, farmers associations, insurance companies in the livestock sector, stock feed manufacturers, beef wholesalers, auctioneers among others.

There is so much scope that can be explored for the benefit of the livestock sector but there has to be active mobilisation to ensure the critical mass is attained in terms of numbers of livestock farmers exhibiting in these shows.

In some communities we have livestock development committees and associations but an agricultural show comes and passes without anyone of them competing in such exhibitions.

If these structures could be activated to mobilise participants and ensure the critical masses of farmers is enrolled for the competition it could see the agricultural shows at district level become vibrant and inevitably this translates to bigger shows even at the ZITF.

I long to see livestock smallholder farmers participating in these shows such as the ZITF so that it is not only the familiar big boys and research stations taking part.

How does an agricultural show such as the one that is held concurrently with ZITF come and go with no livestock farmers from Bulilima, Nkayi, Lupane and all other districts, yet there are very successful farmers in all those districts?

Smallholder farmers hold the largest chunk of our national herd in terms of the livestock population and it’s a misnomer that an agricultural show comes and goes without their participation. read more

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Thank You – Mobile veterinarians

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Whether you are taking your animal in for their regular check-up or making an emergency visit, being evaluated by a veterinarian is a critical part in your pet’s health. But what if an animal is too sick or injured to be transported to the clinic? Some animals, such as livestock, may even require a trailer for transport. Luckily for pet and livestock owners, mobile veterinarians are there to help.

Leslie Easterwood, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the important role mobile veterinarians play in animal health.

“The most common reason for an owner to use a mobile veterinarian is so that they do not have to transport their animal to a hospital,” Easterwood said. “There could be a variety of reasons why having the veterinarian come to the farm or home is better, such as situations where there are several animals to be treated or the owner does not have access to a livestock trailer.”

Though mobile veterinarians are available for home-visits, they may also see patients in a clinic. With each day being different than the last, mobile veterinarians are kept on their feet.

“A typical day for a mobile veterinarian may include appointments in the office with a few farm calls and even surgeries,” Easterwood said. “Some days a mobile veterinarian may not leave the office, and other days they may leave early in the morning and not return until after dark.”

Despite mobile veterinarians’ busy schedules, they are prepared to perform an array of procedures and surgeries for different species. Though some procedures and surgeries are best performed in the hospital setting, most routine work can be performed on the farm as well as in the hospital.

Mobile veterinarians care mostly for large animals, but there are still small animal veterinarians who will make house calls.  Easterwood added that there are also an increasing number of small animal veterinarians who are willing to make house calls for physical therapy and perform an at-home euthanasia.

But before you call a mobile veterinarian, ask about any additional charges, such as travel fees. Otherwise, Easterwood said the costs are generally the same. read more…

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The rising heat can affect farms and livestock

As the dry heat and temperature index continue to rise, farmers in the valley find themselves needing to take extra care of themselves and their livestock. “The heat is definitely a factor when it comes to farming,”says Andrea Crain of DeKalb Farmers Coop.

ANIMALS CAN OVERHEAT JUST LIKE PEOPLE. “They need to keep fresh water and have a source of shelter and shade for those animals,” says Crain. It’s important for farmers to monitor their livestock during extremely hot weather conditions, especially chicken farmers.

“Chickens can die from heat stress within hours, so if the houses are not well ventilated or if they don’t have enough water,” explains Crain. “Enough fresh clean water to keep them hydrated, it can get really ugly really quickly.”

With agriculture being a huge part of so many people’s livelihoods, hot temperatures can greatly affect business. “You can have a chicken farmer that can lose a house full of chickens within hours and that is their pay check for that three months, that four months. So it’s very, very critical that they keep these animals alive and hydrated and healthy.”

Farmers must also take care of themselves. “It’s a grind and it’s a constant grind. They have to be out there from sun up to sun down out there. They have no choice,” says Crain.

Farmers are encouraged to drink plenty of water as well, wear sunscreen
and try to take breaks in shade as much as possible. Read more…

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Water vital for #livestock during drought

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A 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most domestic livestock species.

Livestock producers need to make sure they have enough water for their animals because much of North Dakota is experiencing drought, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock environmental stewardship specialist Miranda Meehan.

“Providing adequate water to livestock is critical for animal health and production; a 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most species of domestic livestock,” she says. “Keep in mind that water requirements may double during hot weather.”

Carl Dahlen, NDSU Extension beef cattle specialist, says the amount of water livestock need depends on the conditions and type of animal.

“Providing adequate water to livestock is critical for animal health and production; a 10 percent loss of body water is fatal to most species of domestic livestock. Keep in mind that water requirements may double during hot weather.” Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension service livestock environmental stewardship specialist

The general estimates of daily water intake for beef cattle when the temperature is 90 F are:

Cows – 18 gallons for nursing mothers; 15.3 gallons for bred dry cows and heifers

Bulls – 20 gallons

Growing cattle – 9.5 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 12.7 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 15 gallons for an 800-pound animal

Finishing cattle – 14.3 gallons for a 600-pound animal; 17.4 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 20.6 gallons for a 1,000-pound animal; 24 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

Estimates of daily water intake for dairy cattle at 80 F are:

Dry cows (for maintenance and pregnancy) – 16.2 gallons for a 1,400-pound animal; 17.3 gallons for a 1,700-pound animal

Lactating 1,500-pound cows (for maintenance and milk production) – 28.9 gallons for 60 pounds of milk production; 32.2 gallons for 80 pounds of milk production; 35.6 gallons for 100 pounds of milk production

Heifers (for maintenance and pregnancy) – 6.1 gallons for a 400-pound animal; 11 gallons for an 800-pound animal; 14.5 gallons for a 1,200-pound animal

For more information, see the NDSU publication “Livestock Water Requirements” at http://tinyurl.com/LivestockWaterRequirements.

“Good-quality water can have a major impact on your cattle’s intake and weight gain,” Meehan says. “Canadian studies have shown the quality of water accessible to livestock is directly tied to the amount of forage they consume. Studies report improved gains by as much as 0.24 pound per day in yearlings and 0.33 pound per day in calves.”

In addition, providing good-quality water can improve herd health. Livestock whose primary water sources are ponds and dugouts have a greater risk of contracting illnesses such as giardia, leptospirosis and cyanobacterial poisoning, compared with livestock drinking from a trough.

Dugouts should be fenced to restrict livestock’s direct access to the water. The water then can be piped to a trough. This will increase the water’s palatability and reduce nutrients in the water. Increased nutrients have a direct impact on the growth of certain species of blue-green algae and elevated levels of sulfates, which have the potential to be toxic.

In many instances, the water in dugouts and dams has been reduced greatly because of the drought, increasing the risk for animal health issues related to water quality. Meehan recommends producers using dugouts and dams as their primary water source look into hauling water or installing an alternative water source.

Hauling water is a short-term fix, but it can help get producers through this year’s drought. Water developments are one of the investments that give producers the most bang for the buck, the specialists say.

Common developments include troughs, pumps, wells and pipelines. Many cost-share opportunities are available to producers installing water developments through the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, soil conservation districts or conservation groups. In addition, the North Dakota State Water Commission has opened the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Program, which will cover up to $3,500 of the eligible costs for water development projects.

“When thinking about water developments, also consider the importance of maintaining an ample supply of good-quality water for cattle during the heat of the summer,” Dahlen advises. “Heat stress can have major impacts on cattle productivity and also can be life-threatening. Evaluate your water supply lines and ensure you have sufficient water pressure and flow capacity to keep troughs full during times of peak water consumption.” Read more…

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Drought conditions & #health issues in #livestock

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Extremely dry conditions can lead to more respiratory problems in livestock, according to the state veterinarian.

“Respiratory illnesses are a concern especially if you’re in an area that’s not getting rainfall,” Dustin Oedekoven said in a phone interview this week.

Russ Daly, South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian, said dusty conditions can compromise a calf’s immune system and lead to problems like “dust pneumonia.”

“The main problems you worry about with drought conditions is dust and dust doesn’t cause pneumonia by itself, but it really stirs up all the mechanisms all the calves and other animals need to keep out of the respiratory tract,” Daly said by phone.

“I’ve heard some stories of some dust issues in calves that people are perceiving.”

Water conditions when it’s dry can also cause health problems in livestock and lead to poor performance in cattle, he said.

“Poor water quality can contribute to their general unthriftiness, especially with cows and their ability to nurse their calf,” Daly said.

“Lack of water and lack of feed — those would be the two things that would make cows dry up and stop producing much milk. Then the calves pretty much have to wean themselves. Most area producers are doing the best they can to take care of what cattle they have left.”

Daly said symptoms of respiratory issues in livestock might not be overt at first and can include fever, slowness in calves and droopy ears.

“But it will progress to the hard breathing and coughing,” he said. “The first thing people will see is the calves won’t appear to be as thrifty and active.”

No problems with neglect

Oedekoven said he hasn’t heard of an uptick in complaint or neglect cases due to the drought.

While there is a shortage of grass and water in some areas, ranchers are coping by selling cattle when necessary, as opposed to not taking care of them, Oedekoven said.

“I think most ranchers are managing appropriately and if they don’t have the grass or feed available they are making those marketing decisions,” he said. read more…

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Parasite Risk in #Sheep, #Cattle with Warm Weather

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Dairy and beef cattle are at risk of husk, caused by infection with the cattle lungworm from June onwards. Unvaccinated calves, naïve adult cattle and those without an effective anthelmintic programme face the greatest threat.

Early signs of lungworm include coughing after periods of exertion and progress to more severe compromise, with coughing at rest, increased respiratory rate, and difficulty breathing. Prompt recognition and treatment is critical.

“Early intervention significantly reduces costs and the impact on productivity. A diagnosis should be sought from the farm’s vet at the first sign of symptoms, “ advises Sioned. “Treatment with a fast acting zero milk withhold wormer with up to 28 days of persistent activity, such as Eprinex® (eprinomectin) provides effective control without the loss of milk sales.”

Incidents of parasitic disease caused by gutworms, including Ostertagia ostertagi, peak in August and September, though even low levels of worm challenge can reduce growth rates by up to 30% in beef calves and dairy replacement heifers.

Strategic control with a broad-spectrum wormer such as IVOMEC® Classic (ivermectin) can reduce the impact of parasites in autumn/winter born calves in their first grazing season, and spring-born suckler claves in their second grazing season. Those animals receiving strategic treatments must remain set stocked for the entire grazing period or moved to aftermaths when they become available. read more…

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Ireland is near the bottom of the European league in the use of antibiotics in animals

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Irish livestock has among the lowest antibiotics use in the EU, veterinarian Fergal Morris told the MSD Animal Health conference in Dublin.

Mr Morris, director of ruminant business with MSD Animal Health, said Irish agriculture is in a good position to deal with EU legislation restricting antibiotic use in food animals, due to be introduced over the next three years.

“A recent EU report shows that Ireland is near the bottom of the European league in the use of antibiotics in animals,” said Mr Morris. “Irish farmers use one-eighth the amount of antibiotics used by farmers in Spain on a per animal basis, which is the highest user of antibiotics in the EU.

“Farmers in Italy use seven times more antibiotics than their Irish counterparts while the average German farmer uses three times more than the average Irish producer.”

Mr Morris said that Ireland’s lower usage of antibiotics is a reflection of the country’s grass-based milk, beef and sheep farming and relatively low levels of intensive pig, as well as poultry, production.

“Even Ireland’s pig and poultry producers are much lower users of antibiotics than their EU counterparts,” he said. “This is due to the strict biosecurity policies which are used by producers combined with a big increase in recent years in vaccination of pigs and poultry to protect against the major disease threats.”

He referred to the strides across many EU countries to curb antibiotic use in farm animals. Dutch farmers have cut antibiotic use by more than 50% in the past seven years. However, overall EU antibiotic use is still around 50% higher than in Ireland.

“In the Netherlands and Belgium, use of critically important antibiotics has been cut by more than 90%,” said Mr Morris. “Critically important antibiotics are products such as third- and fourth-generation cephalosporin’s and fluoroquinolones, which are vital components in human medicine. A similar initiative on further reducing antibiotic use in Irish farming is also getting underway.”

The use of preventative vaccines has more than doubled in Ireland in the past decade, creating healthier animals which need less antibiotic intervention. story from…

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