Here is a list of animal care basics which should be followed for better health and well-being of livestock in winter:
Animal Feed during winter:
- Sowing winter fodder crops such as Berseem and Oat in the month of October to mid-November.
- Feeding roughages or forages to keep the dairy cows’ milk production and body heat up. Additional grains like maize, wheat or oats can be given to animals to meet their increased energy requirements throughout winter.
- Oil cake like mustard oil cake, cotton seed cake, etc., can also be fed to meet their protein needs.
- Increasing the number of feedings per day for calves, from 2 to 3 while maintaining the same volume per feed. For neonatal calves, hypothermia is a major concern, hence housing, feeding, and hydration is crucial.
- In any event, the water should not be frozen. But if water is excessively cold, warm it up with some hot water and make it lukewarm.
Shelter and housing system:
- Keeping animals indoors during winter is crucial, but at the same time ensuring availability of adequate ventilation is also mandatory. Use curtains made of tarpaulin, bamboo, dry grass, paddy straw, jute bags, guinea bags, etc., if housing system is loose.
- Chopping the branches of gloomy trees to increase the amount of light that gets into the animal shed.
- Sand, woodchips, sawdust, straws, rice husk, and other dry materials can be used to keep the floor and bedding dry.
- Protective gear for young stock should be supplied to prevent heat loss from the body and offer warmth.
- If house floor is concrete, it should be covered with bedding (straws), to provide insulation and minimize heat loss. To avoid heat loss due to conduction, choose bedding that is 4 to 6 inches thick.
Care and Hygiene:
- Maintaining proper alleyways and drains for bed drainage of urine and other excretions as wet floors can cause serious ailments. Wet floors put young animals at a higher risk of contracting sickness.
- Avoid overcrowding of animals in sheds since this causes ammonia build-up, which can exacerbate and worsen respiratory diseases, including pneumonia. For animal housing, use the recommended floor space.
- Cleaning shed twice a day is recommended for proper elimination of ammonia, livestock waste, and other disease-causing microorganisms. It will also improve shed ventilation.
- Animal skin becomes chapped and cracked throughout the winter, with the udder being the most vulnerable. If udder of a dairy animal gets chapped or sore, there are a variety of commercial balms and moisturizers available.
- During winter, hair clipping should be avoided. The animals should be dewormed on a regular basis. To prevent worms and their larvae from developing, deworming should be repeated every 21 days.
- Vaccinating all the animals at the appropriate time.