| Animal husbandry: Feeding and care of animals |
|Looking after animals|
A farmer who leaves his animals to roam freely, who does not watch them, has not much work to do.
But his animals:
• do not make good use of the grass.
They eat the good grasses first and leave the poor ones.
The good grasses are always eaten before they make seeds, and so they cannot multiply.
On the other hand, the poor grasses which are not eaten grow well and make many seeds. So they multiply and the pasture becomes poor.
• may have accidents and get diseases.
They may go near streams and catch many diseases.
If an animal is bitten by a snake or has some accident, nobody knows about it, and nobody looks after the animal.
Animals can also be stolen more easily.
• damage crops.
To prevent animals from damaging crops, fields must be surrounded by fences, or else fields a long way from the village must be farmed. Then the farmer loses a lot of time going to his fields.
In a paddock
To make a paddock, put a fence around the pasture so that the animals cannot get out. The fence is made with wire and posts. But wire is costly.
There are cheaper ways of making a fence. You can plant a row of small trees very close to one another, or two rows of sisal or thorns. You can also use millet stalks. It takes a lot of time and work to make fences and keep them in good repair
In the paddock it is easier to keep the animals under watch.
They can't get out and damage the crops, and they make better use of all the grass of the pasture.
Making fences requires money and work. It is useless to spend money unless at the same time you improve the animals' food, and house the better and look after them better.
• With a herdsman
It is best for the farmer himself to watch over his animals. He can also get some member of the family to do it. Or several farmers who know one another well can put their animals together, have them vaccinated, and pay a herdsman.
In any event, the farmer must keep an eye on the herdsman to make sure he is doing his job well.
To do his job well, a herdsman must know about animals, look after them well, and lead them to good pastures.
A good herdsman does not cheat the farmers; for example, he does not sell the milk which the young animals are supposed to drink.
To help the herdsman, a dog can be trained to lead the animals, to prevent them leaving the herd and to bring them back when they do.
A well- trained dog is very useful to the herdsman.
Why shelter is needed.
To protect the animals from wild beasts, from wind, sun and rain, and from diseases.
Where to build the shelter.
• Near the farmer's house, so that he can watch the animals better.
• On dry ground, on a mound. Wet soil causes diseases. Do not build in a tow- lying place where the rain water collects.
How to build a shelter.
• You can build a shelter without spending a lot of money.
Use wood, earth, straw.
• The animals must be protected from the wind. Build a fairly high wall of earth on the side from which the wind usually blows.
Build small walls on the other sides.
• The animals must be protected from sun and rain. Make a straw roof.
• There must be a door big enough for you to get the dung out easily.
• The shelter must not be too small.
The animals must not be crowded. A sheep needs 1 square metre and a cow needs 5 to 6 square metres.
• Along the lower edge of the roof fix a bamboo that you have cut in half lengthwise. You must also take out the little divisions inside the bamboo.
Slope the bamboo slightly,and under the lower end place a drinking trough.
The rain that falls on the roof will run into the bamboo and from the bamboo into the drinking trough.
The bamboo will act as a gutter.
• You must build the shelter in such a way that the wind carries the smell away from the house.
Beside the shelter make a paddock where the animals can walk about.
1. It should be large enough to be divided into sections and should have trees for shade.
2. Make a fenced- off section for milking. This allows easier and cleaner milking.
3. Make another fenced- off section for calves to be separated overnight from their dams, but put it near enough to the milking section to avoid milk let- down.
4. Make a covered hay- feeder.
5. The manure pit is shaded. Put it far enough away from both the milking section and the carves' section.