Livestock owners urged to stock up on supplies for rainy season
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is reminding livestock owners to stock up on critical supplies for their animals during the rainy season.
RADA’s Senior Plant Health and Food Safety Officer, Francine Webb Lawrence says farmers should have a checklist for their livestock.
“Ensure that you have stocked up at least a week’s supply of feed, medicine and water because, after a hurricane, you may have blocked roads and you will not be able to get access,” she said in a recent interview.
Webb Lawrence also advises farmers to properly store animal feed to prevent contamination.
“Ideally, you should check your roofing as well, so that you don’t have feed being contaminated [by] leaks. Animals should also be moved out of low-lying areas. Take them to higher ground away from riverbanks or areas that they would likely suffer from landslides and flooding,” she said.
Meanwhile, RADA Livestock Specialist, Maxine Brown, is advising farmers to make silage a long-term option for feeding animals during periods of heavy rain.
“Silage is grass fermented by the anaerobic process, which means that air is not included. Farmers can cut up the grass, mix it with a little molasses, put it in an airtight container and leave it there… and it can last for a couple of years,” she said.
Noting that silage is another source of good nutrition for animals, Brown said “farmers can save it for the rainy season”.
“When they have access to grass, they can make this silage, store it and in times like these when you’re finding that forage quality or availability is low, you can use the silage to feed the animals,” she indicated.
Consistent access to good nutrition through high-quality feed can stabilise the production of eggs and milk for chicken and dairy farmers.
Another good source of nutrients for animals that can be stored for long periods is hay, which can be collected through baling, which is the process of compacting dried grass to form cubes or rolls.
“We also encourage farmers to produce hay. Now we know that not all farmers will have land space enough to do it on a large scale and to have fancy hay balers, but handmade hay balers can be used. Even if you’re a small farmer and you have access to a small amount of grass, you can do the same and it can [be stored] for a long time as well,” Brown informed.
For details, individuals can contact RADA at 876-977-1158 or visit its website at www.rada.gov.jm.