Drought affects livestock

THE livestock sector has been drastically affected by the dry spell over the Western Division.

Principal agricultural officer Vinesh Kumar says there have been reported cases of livestock deaths in the region.

“The Ba and Nadi districts have reported deaths of large animals, goats and sheep. Preliminary investigations have revealed that though the dry spell may be a contributing factor for the deaths, the cause is not primarily due to starvation or dehydration,” he said.

“We have to understand that during the dry spell, animals are under stress and in certain cases they become malnourished and are vulnerable to secondary infections, diseases and worms.”

Mr Kumar said another sector also affected was the dairy exports from the region.

“Milk production has also reduced from 4.5litres to three litres per cow now.

“Animal feed, pasture and fodder have remained a challenge as large areas with good pasture have been lost in fires during the start of the dry spell.

“Most sugarcane farmers are harvesting burnt cane and this has reduced the quality of cane tops for animal bulk feed. The fires have also burnt beyond farm boundaries that typically are reserved by canefarmers for grazing their animals.”

He said as a result animals were straying to other areas in search of food.

“We have an issue of stray animals and we are advising farmers to secure their animals and ensure they are kept within the farm boundaries.”