Livestock is an umbrella term for animals raised on a farm for food. There are many different animals and each animal may also have various breeds. Every animal has different needs and caring for them can be vastly different. However, on the whole, they are all also basically animals. And there are basic rules on how to take care of them as a whole. Knowing these basic rules is quintessential for all farmers. In this article, we will be going through these basic rules and guides on how any farmer should take care of their livestock!
1. They Need Shelter
Like most living things in the world, your livestock will need a basic shelter that they can take refuge in. This is especially important at night when the temperature drops or during times of extreme weather. For example, if it gets too cold and they are without shelter, dairy-producing animals may suffer as their teats freeze. This would in turn, lower the amount of milk produced. As a farmer, you would want to prevent that from happening. Alternatively, if it gets too hot, your livestock will end up being stressed or dehydrated, and this may cause them to fall sick. Therefore, it is important to provide shelter for your livestock. This is especially crucial if you want them to thrive as having protection allows them to feel relaxed.
There are a variety of shelter types, such as barns, fences, sheds or hutches. Whatever it is, you will have to pick a shelter that is appropriate for your livestock and the climate surrounding them. The shelter should also have sufficient space for all the livestock living within it. It should be well-ventilated on the inside but not so much that it gets too cold.
Your shelter will also require bedding for your livestock. This bedding provides warmth for them and also serves as a way to soak up their waste and excrements. It ensures that their shelter can remain reasonably clean as the soiled bedding can be changed for clean ones.
2. They Need Water
Like all living things, water is essential for your livestock’s survival. You should always ensure that your livestock has access to abundant clean water. Water is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, water helps in lowering the amount of food that your livestock requires. This is because the water will fill their stomachs up. Aside from that, water can help to regulate their body temperature in both hot and cold weather. However, the water provided should never be cold in winter. Instead, you might want to provide them with warm water. This is because cold water would lower their temperatures and their bodies would consequently have to burn more energy to keep them warm. But overall, water is extremely important for their health and survival. This is especially important for animals that are involved in dairy production.
3. They Need Nutrition
Food is another essential for your livestock to survive. And in order for them to thrive and produce quality meats or dairy, you would need to provide them with the right amount and types of nutrients. Their total food intake has to be a balanced plan in order for them to be the healthiest. Different animals would have different needs and plans. However, on a whole, you would have to supplement most of them with additional minerals, vitamins, and protein. This is on top of what your livestock may forage to eat on your pasturage. You would need to do further research on your individual animals to know what exactly to add to their diets.
Furthermore, you would also have to increase all their food in winter. This is because the cold temperature will result in your animals having to expend more energy in order to stay warm. As such, they would need additional food in order to maintain that. Without the additional food, your animals might end up burning through their own body stores and become emaciated. As a farmer, you would want to avoid that.
You should also actively monitor the consumption of food by all your different animals. This could give you valuable insight into their health. If they are eating less, they could be sick and require treatment.
To prevent food wastage, you can feed your animals more regularly. This allows you to put out lesser amounts each feed and hence, there will be lesser chances of any food being wasted or accidentally contaminated.
4. They Need Basic Hygiene
Your livestock also requires basic sanitation and hygiene. They do not require daily baths like us. However, their living space does have to be relatively clean. This means that their shelters should not be overwhelmingly filled with mud and or feces. If they are, it would be providing the perfect breeding spot for sickness for your animals. Such an unclean environment will also make it highly uncomfortable for your animals. If it rains or gets too cold at night, this situation will only be worsened for your animals. Your animals would then be stressed and or fall sick. In the worse cases, your animals could even die and put you at a loss.
Therefore, you should be ensuring that the ground of their shelter is covered with bedding. This bedding also has to be regularly changed to ensure cleanliness. Alternatively, you may find that sand, wood flakes, gravel and or tiles could help improve the shelter’s cleanliness situation greatly too.
In conclusion, taking care of your livestock is not as hard as it may seem. They are living things just like we are and many of our basic needs are mirrored by them. Just as we need shelter, food, water, and hygiene, your livestock also needs all of these too. As a farmer, you are raising your livestock to make a profit and taking care of them is what will allow you to achieve such profits. Therefore, these are the few basic rules that any farmer should utilize when taking care of their livestock.