The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is encouraging farmers to keep their livestock cool during the summer months.
With rising temperatures and repeated record-breaking highs, Livestock Specialist at RADA, Maxine Brown, said farmers can implement short-term measures to protect animals.
“Because of the heat that we are having, what farmers need to do, immediately, is to make sure that their animals have access to cool water. Sometimes because of the temperature of the day, the tank that you have, it can warm up the water,” she said.
In an interview with JIS News, Ms. Brown said this is especially important for broiler farmers, whose chickens are already overheated.
“The other thing that they need to do is to provide shade, especially for cattle and small ruminants such as goats and sheep. Farmers normally tie them out, so if they’re going to do that, try to see if you can tie them where they can have access to shade,” she advised.
Extreme heat or heat stress can affect the quality of life and eventually the level of production of animals. As such, RADA is encouraging farmers to ensure provisions are in place to provide sufficient shelter for the animals.
Ms. Brown also said the Government has been working to provide funding to assist farmers to do small housing arrangement for the animals, so that they can provide them with shelter against the extreme elements.
“They can use simple things like a tarpaulin in the meantime, especially if farmers have cattle or a lot of animals, to at least provide some sort of shade for the animals and try to aerate the place as much as possible,” she said.
In addition to these short-term measures, farmers are encouraged to destock or to cull weaker animals from herds. Meanwhile, Ms. Brown said long-term measures for keeping animals cool are also important for farmers to implement on their farms.
“Farmers need to put trees in place that can provide shade. For persons who have pastures, we also tell them to use light line fencing and if they’re going to cut down trees to establish pastures, don’t cut down all the trees,” she said.
“We also encourage persons to put in irrigated fodder banks. These are just areas to plant some grasses or legumes to provide protein for your animals, so that when the times are dry, because it’s irrigated, you’ll still have a source of nice fresh forage for your animals,” Ms. Brown said.
For extension services and more information from RADA, persons can visit rada.gov.jm.