There is an extreme of metrological variation where recorded temperature deepens down even in minus degrees during December and January months, especially in areas like Punjab. Dr. D.S. Malik HoD, Livestock Production Management, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University revealed that three aspects require much attention in this season i.e. environment modification through proper shelter management, improving body reserves through nutritional management and proper health care.
Curtains should be used in the sheds of loose housing system to obstruct the flow of wind at animal’s level. Curtains can be made from tarpuline, bamboo, dry grass, paddy straw, guinea bags, jute etc. Shady trees around the shed should be trimmed to encourage the infiltration of sunlight in the shed which will not only provide warmth but will also disinfect the animal houses due to action of ultraviolet rays. Furthermore, animals should be permitted under direct sun exposure during daytime in open paddocks. Animal’s shed and its floor should not remain wet and cool for longer periods of time. This may expose the animals, especially younger ones, to various ailments like pneumonia, fever, coccidiosis, diarrhoea and even death in severe cases.
Dr. Malik suggested that suitable bedding up to the depth of 4-6 inches in large animals and 2 inches for smaller animals should be provided on puccaa (concrete) floor as direct contact of animal with cold floor will leads to more body heat loss through conduction. Paddy straw, dry grass, wheat bhusa, saw dust, rice husk etc. could be used as bedding material. Jhuls (clothing) made up of gunny bags may also be used on larger animals to provide them insulation and warmth during extreme winter season.
Good ventilation must be ensured during winters. Shed should be cleaned at least twice in a day for proper disposal of wastes and minimum piling up of ammonia gases.
Animals should be cleaned regularly with clean cloth or some brush. Hairs of animals should not be clipped during winters. Bathing of animals with cold water during winter should be avoided.
Animals should be provided with good nutritious and balanced diet during winters. Berseem, most abundantly available green fodder, has high protein percentage and water content, can easily support production level of lactating and growing animals. So, accordingly protein containing ingredients i.e. cakes in concentrates shall be reduced for economical production. The sequence of various types of cake to be used may be in order of Mustard cake, Cotton seed cake, Groundnut cake and Soybean flakes. If there is shortage of green fodder, then 25-30 kg of leguminous fodder can be mixed with 5-10 kg of wheat bhusa for feeding larger animals. In addition to this 3 kg of concentrate mixture will be sufficient to maintain the body temperature. If fodder is not scarce then 40 to 50 kg of good quality green fodder will be sufficient to maintain the production up to 10 litres of milk in cattle and buffaloes. To avoid incidences of nitrate toxicity and bloat in winter, the leguminous fodders should be mixed with either non legumes or wheat bhusa.
He advised that one should never forget to incorporate 2% mineral mixture and 1% salt in concentrate feed during winters. It should be purchased from reputed manufacturers. Clean, fresh, lukewarm water should be offered to the animals during winters.
De-worming should be repeated 21 days after the initial dose to prevent other worm eggs and larvae in their additional stages of development. One should use suitable acaricides in the shed and on animals to control this problem.