Animal husbandry: The foundation of all things farming

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Animal husbandry: The foundation of all things farming

Welcome to another edition of the Talk to the Vet column, where we symmetrically dissect everything that has to do with animal healthcare, the basics of farming and also share all tips and know-how on various issues with our esteemed farmers. 

Today’s column discusses the ins and outs of animal husbandry, which in layman’s terms is the handling, caring, rearing and keeping of animals. 

We are constantly surrounded by dirt and germs (bacteria/ fungus), which do not normally affect humans as much as it affects animals due to the human body’s defence mechanism. 

Generally, the skin acts as a protection barrier against infection; thus, it is very important to ensure it remains intact and clean.

My grandfather used to say, “Master the basics first before you try and do the difficult things”. 

The same can be said in animal health. Master the basics of animal husbandry, as that is the foundation of everything that has to do with animal healthcare. 

With animals, the skin can be damaged by excessive beating with sticks, stones or by wires, nails, zinc plates and thorns, creating an open wound that can act as a port of entry for infection.  

In such cases, where one is loading their animals on a truck or it is vaccination day and there is a need to put the animals into the manga, I highly recommend the use of a cloth or black water pipes to handle or coordinate the movement of the animals.

Do not use sticks, wires or any other materials that will injure the animals while trying to move them to a particular place to undertake your respective assignments. 

Animals should be handled with calm and in an orderly manner to avoid stress. 

When an animal is stressed, especially over an extended period of time, it releases hormones that can reduce its immunity (ability to fight diseases), as well as decrease reproductive performance and appetite, amongst others. 

Stress in animals can also be caused by hunger, separation, weaning, transportation, noise and other irritations. 

It is imperative to ensure that animals have enough food, water, shade, space and freedom to express their natural behaviour.  

An animal in proper body condition has a higher chance of fighting off infections because the body’s soldiers, known as antibodies, are made from amino acids from proteins that are found in food. 

An animal in poor condition does not have enough protein reserves to produce antibodies; thus, it will struggle to fight or recover from diseases. 

It is important to quarantine all new animals for at least two weeks upon arrival, especially if you do not know their history, as they can be carrying potential infections. 

During this period, you can boost their immunity with vitamins and minerals, vaccinate them – and if any of them are sick or look somehow unwell, immediately isolate them and put them on a treatment regime before they can be released to join the rest of the animals. 

Also, the cleaning and disinfection of kraals is important, as it helps remove dung (fertiliser), as well as to dispose of old carcasses and bones, especially during winter and spring. 

I hope you now understand the importance of making time to walk around your kraal or yard to pick up those old, disposed papers and batteries, as well as to also make sure you fix any hanging or loose wires because they can cause serious harm to your animals. 

All these small acts can actually save you money, which you would have otherwise spent on getting the animals treated at the veterinary.

Catch me here again next week when we discuss the importance of vaccination, and how to prevent infections through vaccination protocols.  

Also, please feel free to suggest whatever topics you might want to be covered or discussed here in depth. Reach out by sending your suggestions or any questions to or contact me on +264 817234553.