Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Seven steps to keeping stock healthy

Siobhan Kavanagh

Water is more crucial than food for livestock. Dehydration will start after 18-24 hours without water. The most vulnerable groups of animals are milking cows, animals on high concentrate diets and animals fed hay, straw or other low-moisture feed. Milking cows must have access to drinking water at all times. An animal producing 30l of milk will require 75-90l of water. Finishing animals on high levels of concentrate will also have a big demand for water. These animals should always have free access to water. An animal eating 10kg DM of dry feed will need 60l of water daily. If this is not achievable, reduce concentrates and increase wet forage intake. Remember, these animals will need to be introduced to meals gradually once water supply is restored. In addition, reducing mineral intake may reduce the demand for water, particularly in sheep. If access to water has been restricted, and then suddenly made available, over-drinking or water toxicity can be a very real problem. Slowly does it. Brassica crops such as rape, kale and fodder beet should not be grazed when frozen. Take advantage of any thaw to move the strip wire during the day. If there is no thaw, animals should be fed silage instead.

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