Dr Shoopla Encourages Winter Supplements

If the grazing animals are not supplemented in winter, their production and fertility declines. They become stunted and if pregnant, are unable to carry the pregnancy to term or raise offspring to maturity. The immunity of these livestock is also compromised due to poor nutrition. This makes these livestock more susceptible to all kinds of diseases like botulism.

Speaking on the important issue of winter supplementation for animals last Friday at an Agra interactive breakfast meeting in Windhoek, Dr Johannes Shoopala, Acting Director of Veterinary Services, says winter supplementation is not a new phenomenon. It is good management practice coming a long way in history. “Traditionally we used crop residues to feed livestock in winter. With time some would treat them with urea to improve on protein content. In these practice we had no idea of what nutrient or poisons were in these crop residues.”

“The most difficult period of the dry season is between August and October, when the nutritional value of the natural grazing is at its lowest. It is during this period that our livestock suffer most from nutritional deficiency as a result of a drop in the nutritional value of natural grazing. It is important to take note that among our livestock we have grazers, e.g cattle, and browsers e.g goats. The bushes contain more nutrients than grasses. Therefore grazers tend to suffer more nutrient deficiency as compared to browsers during this period, ” Shoopala stated.

He said for now, mother science could be thanked for the variety of scientifically proved and prepared winter supplements in various outlets for livestock in the country, which come in different preparations for example licks. “Besides the winter licks used in Namibia, we also have summer and production licks. Their use is aocated in both farming sectors, since the benefits have been proven over many years. Some farmers are reluctant to use the licks as prescribed due to the high initial costs. However, farmers should note that although an immediate response is not always visible with licks, aantages are only recognized later.”

Farmers who invest in lick supplements get re-paid by higher production and fertility of their livestock and it is therefore good to note that licks are only used to supplement the most limiting nutrients. It is thus important to keep the animals on the pasture and not to substitute pasture with the lick.

“Licks directly supply minerals, protein and energy to animals, improve digestibility, and thus increase energy and crude protein availability. In the world, the most common and cheapest winter natural protein supplements are made from bone, blood and carcass meal. Unfortunately by law, in Namibia farmers are not allowed to use these because many countries that buy our meat do not want livestock to have eaten supplements of animal origin, for reasons of health and hygiene,” said Shoopala.

In conclusion, he encouraged everyone in livestock production to go for winter supplementation so that they have good livestock production throughout the year and will be able to overcome losses incurred during winter due poor nutrition in our natural grazing. The dry season stretches from May until the end of October and sometimes in November.

Source : New Era