26 June 2020
The agricultural sector is arguably one of the most important sectors in the country, considering its contributions to the economy.
According to Trading Economics, the GDP from agriculture in South Africa is expected to stand at R65.536 billion in the next 12 months.
The economic data provider further predicts that the South African GDP from agriculture will trend at about R65.087 billion in 2021 and R66.974 billion in 2022, which will account for about 2.5% of the overall GDP.
As we enter the winter season, farmers must be aware of the added challenge that livestock face and adapt their management to ensure that livestock can stay at top production levels.
“Changes in temperature can cause stress to livestock, especially when combined with other stress-inducing factors such as feed and water shortages or change of feed during the winter period” says Dr Hope Pachena, managing director of Bupo Animal Health.
“Mammals can adapt to the change of seasons and regulate their core body temperatures efficiently by channelling energy acquired from feed towards subcutaneous fat deposition and/or hair growth.
“Energy is reserved for maintenance of these functions and less energy is used for movement and feed digestion. Because of the slowed digestion, feed intake lowers and the animals solely focus on preserving energy and heat to maintain a stable core temperature,” Pachena explains.
As a result, farmers must ensure that they regulate the temperature in their animal housing facilities to prevent livestock from being affected by the lower environmental temperatures as this could have a negative impact on livestock quality.
“Close monitoring of animals and accurate record-keeping can aid farmers in identifying symptoms which animals may experience when they are in distress. The symptoms may vary from loss of appetite, aggression, fights and reduced production to loss of weight and disease” says Pachena
To help reduce livestock stress this winter, farmers must follow management practices/guidelines which are available to them.
Pachena said farmers should ensure that animals have proper shelter that protects them from the wind and keep animal bedding dry and housing heated to accommodate animal temperature comfort zones.
He also mentioned that farmers need to make sure that waterlines and troughs are not frozen so that the water supply runs smoothly to prevent shortages, which may trigger stress in animals. In addition, the availability of feed that is rich in energy as well as other nutritional supplements is extremely essential to for the wellbeing of livestock during this time.
Good management practices combined with stress management products offered by Bupo Animal Health can help animals endure cold stress.