1. Animal Husbandry

How to protect your Livestock in Winter for Good Production and Health?

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

In the months of December and January, there is an extreme metrological variation where recorded temperature deepens. In Punjab, the temperature is even in minus degrees. Dr. D.S. Malik, HoD, Livestock Production Management, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University revealed that three aspects requires much attention in this season:

  • Environment modification through proper shelter management.

  • Improving body reserves through nutritional management.

  • Proper health care. 

In this article, we have mentioned different ways to protect your livestock in winter for good production and health.

  • Curtains should be used in the sheds of loose housing systems to obstruct the flow of wind at the animal’s level. Curtains can be made from tarpaulin, bamboo, dry grass, paddy straw, guinea bags, jute, etc.

  • Shady trees around the shed should be trimmed to allow sunshine into the shed, which will not only give warmth but will also disinfect the animal housing due to the action of ultraviolet rays.

  • Furthermore, livestock in open paddocks should be allowed to be exposed to direct sunlight during the day. The animal shed and its floor should not be left damp and cool for extended periods of time. This may expose the animals, particularly the younger ones, to illnesses such as pneumonia, fever, coccidiosis, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, death.

  • 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 the direct contact of the animal with the cold floor will lead to more body heat loss through conduction.

  • Paddy straw, dry grass, wheat bhusa, sawdust, 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 the extreme winter season. 

  • Good ventilation must be ensured during winters. Shed should be cleaned at least twice a day for proper disposal of wastes and minimum piling up of ammonia gases. Animals should be cleaned regularly with a clean cloth or some brush. Hairs of animals should not be clipped during winters. The bathing of animals with cold water during winter should be avoided.

  • Animals should be provided with a good nutritious and balanced diet during winters.  Berseem, the most abundantly available green fodder, has a high protein percentage and water content, can easily support the 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 the order of Mustard cake, Cotton seed cake, Groundnut cake, and Soybean flakes. If there is a 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, the 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 of up to 10 liters of milk in cattle and buffaloes. To avoid incidences of nitrate toxicity and bloat in winter, the leguminous fodders should be mixed with either nonlegumes or wheat bhusa. 

  • It is recommended 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. 

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