6 Livestock Management Tips for Small Scale Farmers
By Kevin Hill
The development and application of advanced technology have improved the health of livestock significantly and the benefits include increased profits and efficient livestock management. The increasing use of accurate, robust and reliable livestock production tools has enhanced the monitoring, measurement, management and movement of animals and this has resulted in significant productivity gains across the farming business. Following the patterns of profitable livestock farmers, here are the 6 best practices to make your livestock management easy and efficient so that your animals yield better results:
Feeding a Nutritional Diet
It is important to choose feedstuffs that are rich in nutrients so that your animals reach their optimum levels of production. A lesser amount of red meat and more feed variability maximizes the yield of milk and meat. Feeding livestock less human food and allowing them to graze pastures that have a high-fibre content improves their overall nutrition intake and resistance to debilitating diseases.
Providing the Right Food Supplements
Supplements are proven to boost animal health and productivity by encouraging the growth of beneficial microbes in the rumen. Red clover is known for an enzyme named Trifolium pratense which increases the ability of your livestock to absorb dietary protein. The presence of clover in the diet improves the production of milk and increases the appetite of livestock. Tar brush supplements prevent gastrointestinal acidosis in farm animals and reduce the emission of greenhouses gasses. Azolla Caroliniana – a water fern cultivated in ponds provides additional protein to farm animals that are deficient in protein. Adding supplements to your cattle’s daily feed is the best way to boost the productivity of ruminant animals.
Taking Advantage of Technology
Technology facilitates consistent and accurate monitoring of animal health by providing timely and accurate interpretations in the form of structural statistics. The advent of imaging tools and livestock scales allow remote monitoring of cattle health and help farmers make informed decisions regarding rearing and feeding patterns. There are multiple makes and models of livestock scales on the market depending on your budget. These automated livestock scales are durable, cost-effective and accurate for:
- Monitoring animal health
- Knowing their exact weight before breeding
- Measuring the conversion of feed
- Evaluating their performance
As livestock scales deliver accurate data, farmers can rely on them for making sound management decisions and increasing their profits.
Tracking Animal Performance
By tracking the performance of farm animals you can easily identify healthy breeds that perform better and cull the unproductive breeds or used them for other purposes. Monitoring animal weight facilitates early identification of diseases and averts a dangerous disease from spreading to other farm animals. Monitoring livestock also helps in deciding an appropriate weaning time and selecting animals for cross breeding.
Taking Appropriate Precautions to Prevent Livestock Diseases
- Animals imported from temperate climates often lack resistance to humidity, heat, ticks, parasites and tropical diseases so it is important to keep them in clean stalls where they stay away from disease vectors.
- Rather than allowing farm animals to graze, farmers should cut the fodder and carry it to the stalls or buy imported feed that guarantees quality.
- Imported breeds that are farmed in humid regions are vulnerable to debilitating diseases caused by tsetse flies as they are not resistant to local diseases and so replacing local cattle with imported breeds for profit can actually invite the expense of drugs to combat local diseases
Customizing Practices that are Favorable to the Local Climate and Culture
More than a billion people count on livestock for a living but the benefits of rearing farm animals can stop if traditional farming practices and conventional grazing are replaced with industrial systems that don’t take natural factors into consideration. Changing farm practices for profits can work only when local breeds, resources, and feedstuffs are used and wastage is reduced. Local breeds when fed a balanced diet along with fresh water and supplements will remain healthy and be productive and profitable for farmers.
There is no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to livestock management but using livestock scales to monitor animal health and track their performance is the most appropriate way to increase profits and improve animal performance.
Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.