The healthy growth and development of farm animals has been seen to a large extent to depend on the health of the animals. As a matter of fact, this also tends to affect the output of the animals over a given time.
Meaning of Animal Health
The term ‘Animal Health’ is used to refer to the systematic and scientific approach practiced to facilitate the healthy growth and development of livestock in animal production.
Farm animals have been seen to respond to the state of conditions prevailing in the environment in the course of production. Poor animal health usually leads to low yields and exposure to pathogenic diseases owing to several factors, which shall be explained in the course of discussion in this chapter.
Principles of Animal Health
The healthy growth and development of animals during livestock production depend on the following principles which include:
1. Maintenance of optimum temperature: The growth and development of livestock in animal production depends on the extent of prevailing temperature of livestock in the place where it is kept.
Animals are seen to be highly sensitive to temperature fluctuation at a particular time. In the advent of excess temperature supply, the animals react to the effect of high temperature in the course of production in several ways which includes: reduction in growth rate, reduction in feed intake, decrease in water intake, decrease in production, general body weakness, restlessness, fever and increased rate of panting seen in livestock. Conversely, the effect of low temperature in livestock production results in crowding of the animals around the lighting source to maintain body warmth. Hence, to promote effective growth and development of animals, there is need for the maintenance of optimum temperature of the animals to facilitate animal health in livestock production.
2. Routine prevention of pest and diseases: This is the aspect of animal health in livestock production which involves the effective application of chemicals to check the incidence of pathogenic agents in the areas that animals are kept to prevent the spread of diseases that may result from the presence of disease causing agents at a particular time. This practice is carried out, through effective use of disinfectants, antiseptics and vaccines to increase the resistance of livestock to attack by parasites. This results in the promotion of good animal health.
3. Routine veterinary practice: This is the aspect of animal health that involves the use of veterinary personnel to check up the animals at intervals. This can be done through the services of veterinary specialists that have vast knowledge on the animals. Based on this, the state of animal health is made known.
4. Regular supply of feeds: The unhealthy growth of animals partially depends on the amount of valuable feed components available to the animals at a particular time. Based on this, provision of balanced ration should be supplied to the animals to provide additional increase nutrients above the maintenance ration of the animals, this process is known as flushing, and it is usually done in order to promote healthy growth and development of the animals during livestock production. Poor growth of animals may occur when there is low supply of feeds due to malnutrition and loss in the body vigour of the animal. Balanced feeds usually include carbohydrate, proteins, mineral salt, vitamins, fats and oil and water of different proportions included in formulated feed meant for the animal consumption at specific stages.
5. Controlled stocking of livestock: Animal health can be maintained in a way to enable proper controlled stocking of the animals to be practiced. Owing to the low incidence of pathogenic disease outbreak in livestock, this aspect helps to promote improved animal health in livestock production. The effect of high stocking rate or livestock is that it may lead to the problems of disease outbreak in the animals, thus reducing the output of the animals, and even in severe cases, cause the death of some animals. This may result in loss in livestock production. Over stocking of animals may lead to suffocation and cannibalism in poultry production.
6. Routine maintenance of hygienic condition: Animal health in livestock production can be improved through effective removal of wastes released by the animals in the place these livestock are kept. This is carried out through the proper disposal of wastes and cleaning of inlet and outlet drains to keep the place where the animals are kept clean to ensure good animal health. The physiological condition of the animals tend to be partially dependent on the environment which the animals are kept during livestock production and this also affects the growth and development of the animals.
7. Routine supply of hygienic water: The adequate supply of hygienic water to animals has been seen to contribute to improved animal health and even promote a lot of biochemical processes in the animals’ body system. It is expedient to state here, that animals’ need for water should be met to prevent dehydration and exposure to pathogenic agents in the environment. Based on this, routine supply of clean water is necessary for improved animal health. Animals need adequate water supply to promote proper cellular activities and this in turn facilitates the healthy growth and development of the animals.
Importance of the Principles of Animal Health in Livestock Production
The importance of the principles of animal health in livestock production include reduction in parasite infestation, control of animal exposure to environmental condition, regulation of the stocking rate of the animals, increased yields of animals, increased growth and development of the livestock and accessibility to efficient veterinary services.
Based on this, the adherence to the principles of animal health as a matter of fact, leads to the continuity in the livestock production.
Principle of animal health involves vital application of systematic and scientific approach to promote improved livestock production. The various principles are basically aimed at efficient animal production over a given time when completely adhered to.