WELFARE AND CATTLE
Research carried out by the United States department of Agriculture recorded the lifespan of cattle to be 25 years as of 1995 but presently the average lifespan of a cattle is between 10-15 years as most cows suffer from lameness and other painful conditions that are consequences of poor welfare. If you ask me, I’m convinced cattle rearing is a good business, a profitable one I mean, be it for beef production or dairy cattle. Many had ventured into cattle business and a lot are still considering it. But trust me, the cattle business may just be another nightmare if the welfare of the cattle (handling, transport, vaccination and so forth) is not put into consideration, regardless of the system of production. Be it through broad acre grazing or intensive lots, the owners/managers have a duty of care to ensure that the basic needs of the animals are met. Those basic needs include;
- Sufficient feed and water.
- Appropriate living conditions (housing).
- Appropriate handling during transportation.
- Protection from injury or diseases and treatment if required.
- Opportunity for cattle to display normal behavioral patterns.
These are core basis for expertise rearing of cattle which we would be looking into. Why should I read further when I already know the basic needs? This is probably the question on your mind now. Of course, having read the above listed gives you an idea but not the full knowledge on how cattle welfare can increase productivity and maximize your profit, thus the saying “little knowledge is no knowledge at all”. So stay with me and let’s learn together.
- SUFFICIENT FEED AND WATER– Sufficient feed and water claps at feed and water in the right proportion. Correct feed formulation will save cattle from malnutrition, dysentia and diseases. Please, follow through this story to understand what I am talking about.
Mr. Mutiu, a security guard at a reputable organization has his retirement in about a year, with loads of responsibilities as the man of the house; he decided to engage in a business that can take care of his needs after retirement. Mr. Mutiu gathered his savings to invest in cattle, prior to his little knowledge in cattle rearing. He bought three calves, built them a pen behind his house near a very bushy area. He feeds his cattle with the leftover he gathers from the neighborhood, with the dirtiest water from streams and sometimes the cattle drink from stagnant water. Due to his demanding job as a security guard, he has little time to take care of the cattle. One day he found one of his cattle with black liquid coming from his eyes which he regarded as “cattle cry”, little did he know that the cattle has a disease from the water he feeds them with. Few days later, the cattle died. He was devastated and felt so sad, he has six months to retirement. He mourned his cattle like a child and got quite ill that he took some days off from work. Two months and some days later, his wife came running into his room to inform him one of the two cows was found dead, it was been bitten by a snake. A bad thing to befall a man uhn? While it can be regarded as hard luck, I would say Mr. Mutiu killed his investment with ignorance. Okay, before the story I was talking about feed and water being given in the right proportion, we do not want our cattle to cry like Mr. Mutiu said, we should be conscious of the feed and water given to our cows. Cattle feed requirement include protein, minerals, vitamins, their feed stuff include grains, oilseeds and roughages. Healthy grazing areas is important, good source of water should be available, in the right proportion (Dry cows-70litres/day, lactating cows-90litres/day, weaner calf-55litres/day). However, as your cattle should not be underfed or overfed, some herders are so concerned about the cattle’s size that they overfeed them. Over feeding a cow may cause bloating, a health condition in livestock characterized by an accumulation of excessive gas in the stomach.
- APPROPRIATE LIVING CONDITIONS (HOUSING)-Provision of proper and conducive housing guarantees good health, comfort and protection from inclement (rough) weather. Do you remember Mr. Mutiu? His cattle got bitten by a snake because of the location of his paddock, a very bushy area. Selection of site for cattle rearing requires the following consideration;
- Soil: The soil must be suitable for strong foundation; loamy soils are best suited for building construction of the paddock.
- Availability of land: There should be a vast area to construct all building and should give way to future expansion of farm, at least 2-3 Acres is required for 200cows accommodation.
- Drainage system: Proper drainage of rain and subsoil of water should be provided to keep the environment clean and protect the paddock from dampness
- Protection from noise and other disturbances: The paddock or farm site should be away from noise producing area. Noise is found to affect the animal production
- HANDLING DURING TRANSPPORTATION
Having bought a cow/calf from market, you need to ensure adequate and safe transportation from the market to your farm. You might be wondering, does transporting cattle require special care? Yes, it does. You do not want the cattle stressed or hurt before getting to your destination. Earlier this year, the attention of the ministry of health and the local government authority of Ikwerre was called to a case of dead cows being slaughtered at an abattoir in Ikwerre local government, Port Harcourt. During the investigation, it was gathered that the truck used for transporting the Cattle from Mubi, Adamawa state had fault which caused delay during transportation, as such the cattle were affected by heat ,some were sold on the way and others which were reported to be dead was taken to the abattoir. You should also know that cattle that are de-horned, young calves, suckling calf, adult bulls, and female in advanced stages of pregnancy should each be transported separately and not together, some will say “sheybi cattle na cattle”. You do not want to join people in making that mistake; therefore it requires special knowledge and skill when transporting cattle.
Few of the things to be considered include;
- The size and design of the transport vehicle should be compatible with the number of stock being transported
- The stock rate should be well designed so as to minimize bruising
- Calves should not be transported in a car booth or too tight area
- The vehicle must be in good condition so as to avoid delay during transportation.
- VACCINATION/AND TREATMENT IF REQUIRED
This aspect of cattle rearing requires expert handling as you may need the help of a veterinary personnel. Success or failure on rearing calves depends on the ability of owner/manager to react promptly to the calves’ numerous signals. Cattle herders should be sensitive when handling cow as many as potential problems could be picked. Each day, to look for signs of diseases, look quickly over each paddock, check the nose for dampness and ear for temperature and note that healthy cows should be separated from sick ones to prevent infection. Also the cows should be vaccinated when necessary, pre- calving vaccines for cows should be given 6-8 weeks and a second dose a month prior to calving. Heifers should be vaccinated 30-60 days prior to breeding as vaccinating less than 30 days will cause inflammation in the ovaries. To also prevent diseases, the calves should be dewormed regularly.
These are few out of the basic needs of cattle as there are still lots to know about but then wait till our next blog post for more. As a small scale cattle farmer, how do I have access to these things? I don’t even have the money to build a conducive paddock let alone employing a veterinary personnel, what’s this talk about feed in the right proportion when am not feeding well? I have just a cow, why do I bother myself so much about good source of water? These are questions you may be asking yourself right now. Stress no further, Hastom Nigeria is here to see to those basic needs of your cattle, with just little money, you can be a part of our cattle investment plan, you can bring your cattle or we help you buy a good breed for rearing, for full details about the plan, send a notification of interest to us [email protected] or put a call through to 08163013001.