Carabao Pasture and Herd Health Magement

PASTURE MANAGEMENT

Pasture can be the most economical source of feed for carabao production under ranch operation. But this would entail proper management of the forage land which is essential to maintain its maximum productivity and utilization, and sustain a year round supply of feeds.

Pasture establishment and grazing management

In the establishment of a pasture one has to consider the choice of the land and the species of crops to be propagated, otherwise the purpose for a good pasture management is meaningless. Our pastures can be classified into four types:

  1. native pasture
  2. native pasture over-seeded with legumes
  3. improved pure grass pasture
  4. improved grass/legume mixture

Introducing legumes like the stylo and the centrosema to native pastures like cogon and bagokbok land has several advantages. The legume can fix atmospheric nitrogen, provide a higher nutritive value to the pasture and provide additional feed especially during the dry season.

The procedures for introducing legumes into the native pasture are as follows:

  1. Burning or overgrazing the area at the end of the dry season.
  2. Disturbing the pasture by cultivation or light disking. This will allow contact between the seed and the soil and at the same time set back the native vegetation.
  3. Application of phosphorus fertilizer (30 to 60 phosphorus per hectare per year) and liming the area if the soil acidity is lower that pH 5.2.
  4. Inoculate the pasture area if necessary.
  5. Broadcasting 2 to 4 kg legume seeds per hectare anytime during the wet season.
  6. Controlled light grazing in favor of the legumes.

In a native grass-legume mixed pasture, the stocking rate and length of the grazing period should be determined by the legume component. Viny legumes such as the centro requires a lenient and shorter grazing period while shorter legumes like the stylo can tolerate a heavy grazing pressure.

Two to three hectares of native pastures such as unfertilized cogon land may supply the forage requirement of one adult (2 years old and above) carabao. About 1 to 2 carabaos may be used per hectare in a lightly fertilized area of native grass/legume pastures.

Grazing management on improved pastures should be made rational. The pasture should be divided into a number of paddock and the animals are to be moved systematically from one area to another, rationally. With this system, two animals are allowed to graze per hectare for about 3 to 7 days in each paddock.

However, good fencing should be considered in this grazing management practice. Rotational grazing overcomes the disadvantages of overgrazing and undergrazing of the pasture crops.

On the other hand, continuous grazing is usually employed in most of our cogon or rangelands where fencing is often not economically practical.

The pasture should be uniformly grazed to prevent some parts being undergrazed or overgrazed. Carabaos tend to keep coming back to its usual grazing areas and therefore tend to overgraze them. To minimize this condition, the following recommendations should be considered:

  1. Divide the pasture area into smaller paddocks.
  2. Burn or mow undergrazed areas.
  3. Put up watering/shed facilities in under grazed areas.
  4. Herd the animals daily

Silage Making

During the months when forage growth or crop residue is abundant, it is imperative to save the surplus for the lean months. Storage may be done in a silo. Beside the advantage of continues feed supply, silage making improves the palatability of the forage.

Silage making is done by wilting forage to a moisture content of between 65 and 70% and chopped to a desired length. The ensiling material is placed in the silo, compacted and allowed to cure until ready for use even after 10 to 14 days. A good silage has an agreeable odor and is green in color.

HERD HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herd health management must integrate livestock medicine with modern production technology. The responsibility of a programmed health care and disease control is equally divided between the veterinarian and the livestock raiser. The veterinarian devices such a program with due consideration to the local conditions and resources while the livestock man implements it with optimal supervision to attain healthy, productive animals. Even with good management, diseases or abnormalities could still crop up. Their occurrence must be reported promptly for an early suppression and treatment.

The low population growth rate of carabaos in the country in spite of the efforts to increase the number of the species may be partly attributed to a high mortality rate particularly being calfhood. Sporadic diseases affecting the mature stocks are common as the carabao population does not get the benefit of an effective disease preventive measures are:

1. Start with healthy stocks. Purchased animals must be rigidly examined for abnormalities, defects or signs of illness; must come from reliable sources of known sturdy parental stocks; and must be under isolation for a minimum of 30 days after purchase.

2. Work-ups for parasite and disease control such as deworming, delousing and immunizations must be done during the isolation period. Consult a veterinarian for effective drugs and chemicals to use as well as their dosages, usage and frequency of application.

3. For the unconfined stock, maintain a similar program with emphasis on their proper application on the continuing basis.

4. Provide adequate quality ration since well-nourished carabaos do not only perform better but are more resistant to infectious and parasitic agents.

5. Give optimum protection from environmental stress by providing proper housing, rest especially under the shade during a long work periods and clean water supply.

6. When individually confined or herd quartered, practice sanitation in the pens. Prompt waste disposal should be done to rid houses and pens of pests and insects which thrive on manure and other wastes.

7. Graze in pasture relatively safe from infective stages of internal parasites particularly, liverfluke. For the latter, snail control and pasture management should compliment regular deworming with an effective flukecide.

8. Deworm regularly for other internal or gastroenteric parasites.

9. Delouse with effective insecticides with due consideration on proper concentration and frequency as recommended by the manufacturer.

10. Unproductive breeding stocks must be culled out of the herd and replaced with tested or potentially good breeders.

11. Conduct regular checks for the presence of parasitic diseases. Consult a veterinarian for diagnostic examinations.

12. During disease outbreaks or when the animal is visibly ill, segregate it immediately and seek immediate veterinary assistance. Intensify efforts of environmental control through sanitation and disinfection of contaminated quarters and utensils.

13. Immunize regularly against diseases prevalent in the area: community vaccinations maybe arranged with the proper authorities way ahead on expected disease outbreaks.

14. Segregate the carabao from other animals like cattle, goat and sheep to avoid intertransmission of the disease among these species.

Health Program for Carabaos

A. Before breeding

  • A1. If there is a group of animals from which breeders are to be selected, pick out those which are potentially good ones based on physical characteristics, treatment or previous reproductive performance, and pedigree if known.
  • A2. Blood test the animals for diseases such as brucellosis and leptospirosis. Consult the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) provincial veterinary office or any other veterinary authority for guidance.
  • A3. Deworm animals with wide spectrum anthelmintics (thibendazole, parbendazole, tetramisole, pyrantel). Where liverfluke is widespread or is confirmed to be present in the animal or herd, treat simultaneously by using drugs like Ranide, Distodin, Fasciolex, Zanel, Avlothane, Bilevon – R, etc. For dosages and methods of treatment, seek veterinary assistance.
  • A4. Inject Vitamin ADE to improve the reproductive performance.
  • A5. Vaccinate against diseases prevalent in the area i.e. HMD, hemorrhagic septicemia, blackleg, brucellosis, anthrax. All vaccinations must be spaced out and accomplished preferably before breeding or pregnancy occurs.

B. Pregnancy Period

  1. Maintain animal on a high plane of nutrition. Provide nutritional supplements such as minerals and vitamins, if necessary.
  2. Inject Vitamin ADE in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
  3. At about the last 2 to 3 weeks of pregnancy, deworm against common intestinal roundworms using wide-spectrum dewormers.

C. Calving and Post-Calving

  • C1. Segregate expectant caracows from the herd at least one week before calving. Provide adequate and comfortable quarters. Avoid unnecessary stresses caused by excitement, transport, unsanitary environment, adversed climatic conditions, etc.
  • C2. For day old carabeef, cut the umbilical cord and paint the remaining stump with strong tincture of iodine. It must suckle after parturition to receive the colostrums. If the calf is unable to suckle, assist or train it to nurse on the dam.
  • C3. To reduce post-calving infections, dose the calf orally with neomycin either as a solution or as a bolus. Repeat when necessary or as indicated.
  • C4. To prevent uterine infections in the dam, antibiotic boluses may be inserted high up into the vagina. Retained placenta (unexpelled beyond 24 hours) must be removed by gentle traction and when unsuccessful, inject pitocin or oxytocin as indicated. Seek assistance of a veterinarian whenever necessary.

Flush genitalia with mild antiseptics like diluted Lysol or potassium permanganate solution.

D. Calves up to weaning

  • D1. In areas where internal parasitism is common especially ascaris infection, dewrom caracalves as early as 4 to 5 weeks, repeat after 30 days. Dose with piperazine compounds of any equivalent dewormer in their proper dosage.
  • D2. When necessary, as when caracalves appear weak, unthrifty looking or runty, supplement nursing with multi-vitamin/mineral preparations preferably vitamin B complex. Water soluble nutritional supplements may be made available at all times to the calves.
  • D3. Since calves are easily infected with lice and other external parasites, spray with insecticides like neguvon, Asuntol, Pfispray, Ciodrin, Sevin, Mitox SP, Malathion, Diazinon or Nankor. Application should be 3 to 4 times at weekly intervals to rid the caracalves.
  • D4. Vaccinate against diseases prevalent in the area when the caracalf is 6 months or more, preferably before weaning.
  • D5. Repeat deworming against gastrointestinal parasites at 2 to 3 months and gain immediately before weaning.

E. Yearling-Growing Period

  1. When immunity due to previous vaccination has lapsed, repeat the procedure as in A-5.
  2. Repeat lice control as in C-3.
  3. Treat against liverfluke as in A-3.
    • Repeat flukecide treatment every 3 months especially in areas where this parasite is very common. Where such treatment has considerably reduced the infection, doing may be repeated twice a year thereafter.
  4. For sporadic incidence of specific disease, consult a veterinarian for proper treatment and control.

For more information, contact:

Livestock Division
Department of Agriculture
Regional Field Unit No. VII
M. Velez St., Cebu City

The publication of this guide was made possible through the Livestock Division of DA-RFU-VII. May this serve our clientele at its best. – Eduardo B. Lecciones, Jr., Regional Executive Director, photo from flickr.com

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