Clean Living Space is Necessary
You should clean pens and barns annually by removing dirt, feces, and stagnant water from the area. When disease problems surface, clean barn walls with disinfectants. Let the sunshine in if possible. Chlorine or other commercial disinfectants are also helpful. Remove sick or dead animals from the main population of stock and treat or dispose of properly. Remember to wash hands, change clothing, and disinfect boots after working with sick animals.
Clean Water is Essential!
Clean fresh, cool water is essential for health and production performance. It encourages healthy systems, inside and out, as well as stimulating feed intake. Keep water troughs and tanks clean – use fish or chlorine tablets and a scrub brush. Keep plant material out of water, some plant material is toxic. If animals are drinking from a creek bed, make sure they have hardened crossing or an off-stream water area so that they have easy access to clean, fresh water (good for stream bank health also). Use deicers in winter if water freezing is a problem in your area.
Good Food a Must!
Animal nutrient requirements vary according to age, sex, and production level (lactating, pregnant, growing). Colostrum, the dam’s first milk, is critical for the health and survival of newborn animals. This first milk has immunoglobulins and memory cells for a healthy immune system throughout life. After that, young animals need milk from the dam or powdered milk appropriate for their particular species. The rumen slowly becomes functional and the young animal can switch to forage-based diet after about one month of age.
Fresh, vegetative (young) pasture is a good source of protein, energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals for livestock. Old, mature pasture (seed heads expressed) is lower in protein and energy, as well as some minerals and vitamins. Hay, if cut when plants are in the vegetative state, can be very high in protein and energy, and retains much of its vitamin and mineral content. The exception is Vitamin A is lost over the winter as it is stored. Young, fast growing and finishing animals require more protein and energy than older, slow growing animals. Towards the end of the finishing period for harvest, the animals require a lot of energy, but less protein than at the start. Very lush pasture and/or lots of grain can take care of that, but keep at least 10% forage (hay) in the diet to keep the rumen functioning properly. Changes in the diet should be done slowly so the animals can adjust. When turning animals out to a new pasture (or after being on dry hay), make sure the animals are full of feed (old pasture or dry hay) so they do not engorge themselves on too much fresh grass at one time or eat toxic weeds while on a “feeding frenzy”. Never feed moldy hay. Use caution when feeding ryegrass screening pellets or grass-seed straw. Know the weeds that are in your pasture and beware of toxic ones.
An Ounce of Preventative Medicine is Worth a Pound of Veterinary Treatment!
Livestock and pets should be on routine vaccination and parasite control programs. Work with your veterinarian to get a health plan for caring for your animals. Some veterinarians have a write-up that they can give you on basic animal care programs. You can use these to start with, but they should be customized to fit your specific operation as you form a patient-client relationship with the doctor. There are many types of vaccinations against viral and bacterial infections (initial and booster), and many types of parasite control programs against intestinal worms, liver flukes, flies, ticks, fleas, lice, and chiggers too. Make sure you work with a veterinarian, read the product label so you store and use medicines properly (temperature, duration, clean needles, correct injection site, proper dosage and amount per injection site, etc.).