How to Manage Livestock During Flooding
In this piece, we extracted some excerpts from the presentation recently made by Kwaghe Ayi Vandi at a workshop on sensitisation and awareness creation of stakeholders on the spread of zoonotic diseases during flood disasters.
Floods are the most frequent type of Natural disaster and occur when an overflow of water which submerges land that is usually dry. About 2.3 billion people have been affected by floods globally in the last 20 years. One-half of all weather-related disasters with significant effects on nations have been recorded as floods.
The livestock subsector gets little or no attention during and after floods. Floods and drought account for 83 per cent total livestock and crop production losses. This shows the severe impact of climate related disasters in the agriculture sector.
Vandi said the effects of floods include agony of survivors, physical and mental stress, non-availability of clean drinking water, essential commodities, medicine, environmental damage and loss of dwellings.
He said during floods, in the agricultural sector, fish and pets are the most affected after crops and accounts for $11 billion or 36 per cent of all the damages and losses due to the various natural disasters.
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Due to the growing population, demand for livestock production is expanding in the agriculture sector. Extreme weather events such as floods cause livestock productivity losses as well as mortality.
Flood affects cattle productivity resulting in low milk production, low meat output, low reproduction, animal health and performance. Floods also affect poultry production massively.
In Nigeria, between June-September 2022, the Country battled the worst flood disaster in over a decade. Extreme rainfall and the release of water from Lagdo dam in Cameroon were the leading causes of extensive flooding in Nigeria.
Worries about disruptions to the food supply have grown as a significant tract of farmland covering at least 340,000 hectares and thousands of kilometres of roads were washed away.
Highlighting the impact of flooding on animals, Vandi said one of the major causes of disaster that occur in developing countries are epizootics/epidemics. Decreased production efficiency in animals due to epizootics, increase in bacterial and vector borne diseases such as Hemorrhagic Septicemia, Anthrax and Black Quarter.
Contracting infections such as parasitosis, poor nutrition and subclinical diseases resulting in deteriorating animal health.
Abandonment of various animals and birds by their owners. Animals die due to drowning, starvation, and attacks by predators.
During flooding, persistent wetting of the feet can lead to softening of the hooves, infections of the hooves when they stand in the contaminated water for a long period of time, increased risk of trauma, bruising and penetration of the wounds causing bacterial infections in the foot or skin of the lower limb.
Others are susceptible to tetanus and other toxins present in the flood water due to deep cuts in their skin, exposure and susceptibility to worm eggs and their larvae increases during flood times.
Giving tips on livestock management during and after flooding, he said construction of shelter for animals in flood prone areas and movement of animals to safer places, preference should be given to bullocks, milk cows, breeding bulls as their loss can cause immense damage to the economy.
Collection of feed, fodder, medicine and store in a safe place, training of farmers on evacuating their animals. Releasing the animals when shelter is not available, protection of animals against prey, poisonous snakes and reptiles, proper arrangement of quick movement of veterinary personnel to reach animals for treatment, vaccination and deworming.
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Use of urea treated straw as a feeding option and has the potential of meeting up the challenge to some extent. Straw feeding during the disaster can reduce the burden of scarce feed resources without compromising production performance.
Compensation of livestock owners in case of livestock loss or diseased condition, working bullocks and milk animals should be moved to unaffected areas
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Reconstruction of veterinary Centres that are damaged due to floods, Setting up of permanent feed security systems in flood prone areas.
Provision of disaster kits, transportation facility for animals and safe shelter, optimal cooperation of the various organizations working together through better coordination and cooperation with a single mandate for visible impact Strengthen the manpower, develop specially trained staff and generate epidemiological data and develop facilities for communication for better actions.
Government organisations should provide first-hand assistance to livestock owners in terms of livestock risk service delivery and other livestock catastrophe management information.
On strategies to counter flood events, he said preparedness, response and recovery mechanisms should be given better attention by the Government and NGOs.
Special types of animal houses should be built in the respective communities in order to minimise the economic, social and psychological losses to the livestock farmers during floods. Further strategies: registration of livestock farms, proper disposal of carcasses, segregation of sick animals during and post disaster.
On the policy initiatives required, the presentation suggested identification of organizational resources, determining the role and responsibilities, better policy formulation, initiative of better procedures and planning activities.
Awareness creation on the risk of flood in communities by giving advice and guiding the communities in implementing workable disaster prevention interventions building codes, road systems placement of animals disseminating timely messages in a format that is understood by the local community.
While concluding, Vandi said there is huge economic loss to the livestock sub-sector during and after the flood. Livestock sub-sector is neglected during and after floods.
Risk communication in disasters like floods aims to prevent and mitigate harm from flood by providing adequate information on flood to the population prior to flood, during flood and after, early warning and assessments.
Training of technical staff including Community-Based Animal Health
Workers Provision of fishing kits to exploit fish abundance in flooded areas that can contribute to the food and nutrition security of the population.
Vaccination of animals to prevent spread of diseases and treatment of infected animals support communities and local authorities to conduct disposal of carcasses, humanitarian coordination and support working groups.
Concerned government departments and agencies (federal and state) should collaborate and coordinate better, for better livestock management during catastrophes, using an effective and reliable forecasting mechanism.
Contributed By COLLINS NNABUIFE