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How To Prevent Entry Of Disease At The Farm

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Umar Nsubuga

When you arrive at Kamata Farm in Rwentale-Kamata village, Kyarusozi sub-county in Kyenjojo district, you will find cows that produce milk at the farm are healthy. In place is and an effective health care programme.

Phoebe Kagambe Kusiima, one of last year’s best farmers and the farm owner, says her farm established the herd with resistance to disease in mind.

She says when she was choosing breeds and cows, she ensured they were well suited to the local environment of Kyenjojo district.

Before setting up the farm, she considered maintaining the herd size and stocking rate based on management skills, local conditions and the availability of land, infrastructure, feed, and other inputs.

Donazio Byamugisha, the assistant farm manager, says vaccinating all animals every three months is a must, and a recommendation.

Peter Mubiru, a veterinary doctor, says vaccination is an important component of control and prevention of diseases.

According to Kagambe, it’s important only to buy animals of known health status.

He says this controls their introduction to the farm using quarantine if indicated. It is also important to ensure animals transported on and off the farm don’t introduce diseases. l Monitor risks from adjoining land.

Neighbours must have secure boundaries and where possible, limit access of people and wildlife to the farm. Have a vermin control programme in place at the farm.

According to Kagambe, programmes should be designed to prevent, control or eliminate the presence of or infestation by pests. These are essential in any animal environment at the farm.

  • She says animals should only use clean equipment from a known source, and it’s important to have an effective herd health management programme in place.
  • Use an identification system (plastic ear tag) that allows all animals to be identified individually from birth to death. These can be got from agri-inputs outlets across the country.
  • Giving time to your farm is a key, Kagambe says regularly checks on your animals for signs of disease is a key. “Remember, the best manure is the farmers foot.”
  • Sick or injured cows should be attended to quickly and in an appropriate way. Proper and timely identification of sick or injured cow helps minimise unnecessary treatment expense and preventable production losses. Sick cows can be identified in several ways. The most popular is rectal temperature and visual indications.
  • “The vital signs of a sick animal will change. The temperature may go up (40 degrees Celsius) or down. A rise in temperature of one or two degrees usually indicates pain, while a rise of more usually indicates infection. The rate of respiration, and the way the animal breathes could also slow changes,” she advises.

Mubiru advises farmers to keep new or sick animals in an isolation paddock, separate milk from sick animals and those under treatment, keep written records of all treatments and identify treated animals appropriately.

He also says it is important to manage animal diseases that can affect public health (zoonotic disease).

“These types of diseases, such as anthrax, animal flue and brucellosis pass from an animal or insect to a human. Some don’t make the animal sick, but will sicken a human”.

Measure the heart girth of the animals regularly using a tape measure and convert the measurement to a fairly accurate estimate of the animal’s body weight.

Kagambe says weight is very effective in assessing the reproductive efficiency and growth performance in animals. It is used in determining the health status of an animal when measured in relation to its age.

For example, an animal’s loss of weight is an indication of poor health and, on the contrary, gaining it shows that the animal is in good health. In addition, weight is also used in measuring the correct dose of therapeutic pharmaceutical to treat animal diseases, to avoid the risk of underdosing or overdosing.

“Only use chemicals at the farm that are approved for supply and use under relevant legislation,” Mubiru says.

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