Summer is a hard time not just for humans but for livestock including dairy animals as well, which calls for extreme care in feeding and tending them to avoid being exposed to the risks posed by soaring mercury level.
Owners of cows and other domestic animals have to take additional care in selection of feed and supplements for the livestock under their upkeep to protect them from dehydration and other heat-related physical stress, according to Kerala Feeds Ltd (KFL), the leading state-run manufacturer of livestock feed.
According to Dr K S Anuraj, Nutritionist and Assistant Manager, KFL, the first and foremost caution to be taken is that the cows and other animals should not be kept outside for grazing from 11 am to 5 pm. Crossbred cows are the most vulnerable lot to the seasonal physical stress since their ability to resist the heat is comparatively less.
It is also important to regulate their feeding, especially balanced meal like cattle feed, by partitioning them in small measures before 10 in the morning and after 5 in the afternoon. This applies to other sort of feeds like hay and oil cake, which will help reduce the internal heat generated by the digestion process.
Mixing each meal with a measure of up to 20 grams of baking soda will help reduce heat-stress and regulate the digestion process. It is also essential to add 30 to 50 grams of mineral mixture to feeds of cattle. It is also important to give them feeds containing anti-oxidants like vitamins A, C and E. The drop in quantity of milk, which is common during the summer, could be avoided by feeding the cows with green grass in plenty.
Keeping the cowsheds clean and hygienic is also vital during the season. What is most critical is to ensure that the cowsheds have good air circulation. This could be ensured by providing the cowsheds with fans. Laying wet jute bags on the roof of the cowsheds can check the heat to a great extent.
As the summer stress mostly stems from dehydration, it is most important that drinking water is made available all the time in cowsheds. The best solution is to install automatic drinking system.
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