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Oorlewing van vee tydens die droogte

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In baie dele van die land is dit nog baie droog. Wat kan ek nog doen om dier aan die lewe te hou?

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Oorlewing van vee tydens die droogte

Die seisoene het wel gedraai, maar kort voor Kersfees 2016 is groot dele van Suid-Afrika nog vasgevang in ‘n knellende droogte – die ergste wat hierdie veekundige in vier dekades gesien het. Koerante haal boere selfs aan “Droogte so erg, die rysmiere het al weggetrek.”

Hierdie boodskap is spesifiek gemik op wat boere nou behoort te doen.

Voorspellings dui daarop dat goeie reën wat verligting kan bring moontlik eers in Januarie of selfs Februarie 2017 verwag word. Intussen gaan vee, veral skraal beeste wat tot nou redelik goed die droogtetoestande (voerskaarstes) kon hanteer, by die dag vinnig agteruit. Uit nood moes boere hulle karige voerbronne rek en het drasties onder die koeikuddes geslag.

Die karige groen opslag na klein reënbuie het meestal min gehelp, veral nie onder die erge toestande van groot voerskaarstes. Die nuwe opslag het eerder vinnig saad gemaak en relatief min kos – blaarryke graspolle is baie skaars op veld.

Energie word deur vee verspil om groen grasbotsels na te loop en die inname van sappige materiaal met ‘n hoë waterinhoud maak diere se pense los met tipiese nat mis. Die vinniger deurvloei van klein hoeveelhede groen sappige plantmateriaal deur die dermkanaal is onder sulke omstandighede baie nadelig vir herkouers.

Diere moet toegang kry tot hooi in lang vorm (nie gemaal nie) – droë gras wat nog langs paaie of uitval grond gesny kan word, koringstrooi/oesreste en selfs fluitjiesriet sal deug. Die doel is om die spoed waarmee voedingsmateriaal deur die grootpens beweeg te vertraag en die kans op oorlewing verbeter.

Onthou voerkorrels (en asseblief nie voerpille nie!) is goeie maar relatief duur voerbronne. Wanneer voerkorrels voluit gevoer word is dit meestal ‘n volledige dieet. Indien duur voerkorrels as ‘n goeie aanvullende voerbron tydens droogte gebruik word, moet diere gerantsoeneer word – dit is nie nodig om diere vir oorlewing voluit te voer nie. Dit is belangrik om onder sulke toestande bykomende laegraadse ruvoer aan vee beskikbaar te stel. Onthou, die goeie gehalte ruvoer moet relatief fyn gemaal word om die voerkorrels in die fabriek te vorm. Die fyner ruvoer beteken diere hoef minder te herkou en gevolglik is die spoed waarmee die voerkorrels deur die grootpens en dermkanaal beweeg aansienlik vinniger. Die gevolg is dat die benutting van die voer (vertering – korter blootstelling van vesel aan fermentasie deur mikrobes in die grootpens) ook minder effektief is.

Goeie beskutting en koelte teen die hitte, asook skoon drinkwater is vanselfsprekend.

Hierdie voorstelle mag op baie plase eenvoudig nie meer prakties moontlik wees nie. Poog egter met oordeelkundige bestuur om oor die kort- en langer termyn die skade op beide die veld en diere te beperk.

Meeste finansiële hulpbronne is onder groot druk of reeds uitgeput. Probeer egter steeds om op ʼn realistiese wyse kontantvloei te bestuur of sinvolle finansiering te reël om noodsaaklike aktiwiteite strategies in stand te hou.

Survival of livestock during the drought

The seasons have turned, but before Christmas 2016 large parts of South Africa find itself in the grip of a devastating drought – the worst this animal scientist has seen in four decades. Papers are quoting farmers “Drought is so bad, even the termites have moved away.”

This message is aimed specifically at what farmers could do now.

Forecasts suggest that good rains which can bring relief may only be expected in January or even February 2017. In the meantime livestock, especially thin cattle that have thus far endured the drought conditions (feed shortages), are pining away. In desperation farmers had to stretch the limited feed sources by slaughtering many of their breeding females.

The scant green growth after small rain showers did not help much, especially in conditions of severe feed shortages. The new growth rapidly produced seeds and relatively little feed of substance – leafy grass tufts are scarce in the veld.

Energy is wasted by livestock in search of new green growth and the intake of juicy material with its high water content loosens the intestines with typical wet dung. The rapid movement of small quantities of juicy green plant material through the digestive tract of ruminants are detrimental under these conditions.

Animals must have access to hay in the long form (not ground) – dry grass which can still be cut along roads or elsewhere, wheat straw/crop residues and even common reed (fluitjiesriet) will do. The aim is to slow down the speed at which the feed sources are moving through the rumen and thus improve the chances of survival.

Remember feed pellets (and please not feed pills!) are good but relatively expensive feed sources. When feed pellets are given ad libitum it is mostly considered to be a complete diet. When expensive feed pellets are used as a supplementary feed source during drought, the livestock must be rationed – it is not necessary to feed livestock ad libitum for survival. Under these conditions it is important to provide livestock additionally with low quality roughage. Remember, good quality roughage is ground relatively fine to process the feed pellets in the factories. The finer roughage requires less rumination by the animals and as a result the speed at which the feed pellets move through the rumen and digestive tract is considerably faster. As a consequence utilisation of the feed (digestion – shorter exposure time of fibre to fermentation by the microbes in the rumen) is also less effective.

Good shelter and shade against the heat, as well a clean drinking water goes without saying.

On many farms these suggestions may simply not be possible or practical any more. However, manage judiciously to limit the damage to both veld and livestock over the short and longer term.

Most financial resources are under pressure or have been depleted. However, still try to manage and maintain cash flow judiciously or arrange meaningful financing to strategically maintain the necessary activities.

Geskryf deur: Prof HO de Waal

Dept. Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences
Dept. Vee-, Wild- en Weidingkunde
African Large Predator Research Unit (ALPRU)
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences / Fakulteit van Natuur- en Landbouwetenskappe
PO Box / Posbus 339, Bloemfontein 9300,  South Africa /  Suid-Afrika

Registered with SACNASP as an Animal Scientist
By SACNASP as ‘n Veekundige geregistreer

Pr. Sci. Nat., Anim. Sci. [401721/83]
Tel: 051 401 2210/11
Sel: 083 645 8958

deWaalHO@ufs.ac.za

20 Desember 2016

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