• February 26th, 2020

Proper feeding crucial during the worst time of the dry season

WINDHOEK- Farmers in the substantive livestock producing areas of the country are reminded of the importance of proper feeding although rain predictions go for October and November are positive albeit relatively low and highly variable.

Due to this, the nutrient content and availability of the natural pastures fluctuate from year to year and between the wet and the dry season. This period, livestock suffer mostly from nutritional deficiencies because of a drop in the nutritional value of natural grazing. The dry season is now at its worst in the entire country and the nutritional value of the natural grazing is at its lowest, and the cows are in the final trimester of pregnancy. Typical licks used in Namibia, are winter, summer and production licks. Their use is advocated in both farming sectors, since the benefits have been proven over many years. Communal farmers are reluctant to use the licks as prescribed due to the high initial costs. Advantages are only recognised later, but an immediate response is not always visible.

If grazing is not supplemented during the winter months, animal’s production and fertility rate declines. Not only does the animal become stunted – if it is pregnant, it is unable to carry to term or raise offspring to maturity. Namibia is divided into two major groupings, namely the commercial sector with privately owned farms, and a large communal sector. In the past, crop residues were used to feed livestock in winter, but as time went by some farmers began to treat crops with urea to improve protein content.

Meatco’s feedlot veterinarian, Dr Alexandra Duvel, says the primary aim of a winter lick is protein supplementation (mostly NPN, although in sandy areas P is included at a maintenance level).

By law, such a supplement provides an equivalent of 150 g of crude protein per day to cattle.
Maize meal or hominy chop is used in winter lick to cause a pH-drop in the rumen for slower urea release. Intake is regulated with salt. The protein in the lick sustains rumen micro-organisms, improving the digestibility of the pasture.

Due to the relatively low rainfall, the nutrient content and availability of the natural pastures fluctuate from year to year and between the wet and dry seasons. Farmers should keep in mind that licks are only used to supplement the most limited nutrients. It is just as important to keep animals on the pasture and not to substitute pasture with lick. Licks directly supply minerals, protein and energy to animals, improve digestibility, increasing energy and crude protein availability. Worldwide, the most common and cheapest winter natural protein supplements are made from bone, blood and carcass meal. However, 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 health and hygiene reasons, Duvel concludes.

Staff Reporter
2018-10-16 09:32:10 | 1 years ago

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