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CTA. 2003. Livestock health. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/03. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/64805
The value of healthy livestock
The value of healthy livestock For farming families who are struggling to earn a living, livestock health may not be their greatest priority. Keeping their own family members fed and healthy will naturally be their first concern. However, it is widely recognised that rearing healthy livestock offers many poor families a way out of their poverty. Healthy livestock are productive livestock, not only providing food and income from their meat, milk and eggs, but also providing labour for farming and transport, and manure as a source of fertilizer and fuel. Livestock can also be a way for farmers to save and build their capital. Smaller animals such as sheep and goats are particularly valuable for poorer families, as individual animals can easily be sold when money is needed by the family. Keeping livestock healthy The real secret to keeping healthy livestock is not allowing animals to become sick in the first place; as with human health, prevention is much better than cure, not least because once one animal becomes sick or dies, there is a strong risk that the illness will spread to other animals in the herd or flock. Keeping animals healthy means ensuring a good, balanced diet, availability of clean water, and good, clean housing. In addition to these three basics, farmers should also protect their livestock against diseases by having them vaccinated. Six months is usually the best age to have young animals such as cattle, vaccinated, but this can vary. If animals graze outside, farmers should also control their access to pasture, changing the area where animals graze every two or three months. This will help to reduce instances of tick-borne disease. Dipping cattle with acaricides will also kill ticks. De-worming animals is another good way to keep them healthy. By killing the worms, farmers are letting their animals get the full benefit from the food that they eat. This makes the animals more productive, returning the benefits to the farmers. Keeping healthy livestock obviously requires considerable investment of money, time and other resources. However, the income and other benefits that can be gained from healthy animals ought to make this investment worthwhile. In Livestock need investment a Chief Veterinary Officer working for the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives talks about the benefits farmers can get from investing in their livestock, particularly investments made when the animals are young. He begins by urging farmers to allow new born calves to suckle from their mothers, so as to drink the valuable first milk, called colostrum, which contains antibodies the calf needs to fight infection during the first few months of its life. ...