This article shall discuss animal health, keeping animals healthy, the importance of animal health, and the signs of ill health in animals. The article will also show how people are shifting from conventional methods of keeping animals healthy to organic ones. We will also demonstrate the various benefits of adopting organic livestock production practices and a recommendation for organic products to use. Keep reading the article to gain more insights on this topic.
Table of Contents
- What is Animal Health?
- Importance of Animal Health
- Effects of Animal Health
- Maintaining Animal Health
- Good vs. Bad Animal Health Signs
- Organic Livestock Health
- Organic Animal Health Products from Biozone
Scientific research has that animal health determines how well people interact with animals either on the farms or otherwise. A healthy animal will be more accommodating to humans than an unhealthy one. Further research has shown that, for animal lovers, better animal health means better lives and vice versa. That means people should try and keep their animals and all animals in general in better health conditions whenever possible. That raises the question, ” how can animals be kept healthy”? Answers to this question will depend on individual preferences and objectives of keeping the animals.
What is Animal Health?
A healthy animal can be described as one without diseases and functioning normally. That means the animal does not show any signs of infections and that its routine activities like eating and resting are observed. Other people will also take good production levels as a sign of animal health. That means for those animals that are kept for their products, like cows, poultry, pigs, rabbits, and others, their products are enough and of high quality.
Many animals are known to be good at hiding diseases and infections, and for some, by the time the owner is aware of the disease or illness, it is already at an advanced stage, or it is fatal to the animal. Prevention is better than cure for most animal owners and lovers.
Importance of Animal Health
Animals, especially livestock, are kept healthy because of the following reasons:
- HIgh production levels. Healthy animals produce more products of better quality. That will also mean more offspring, which is good for the farmer.
- Safer food to consumers. Some animal diseases can be passed to the final consumers of the animal products. Keeping animals healthy means that there will be no risk of such diseases to the consumers.
- Less impact on the environment. Unhealthy animals may deposit disease residues into the environment, which causes an adverse effect and may cause the spread of diseases to other animals, especially wildlife.
- Reduced dependency on antibiotics. Excessive use of antibiotics is not suitable for the final products of animals, and keeping them healthy will significantly reduce the need for antibiotics.
- Improved animal wellbeing. For livestock farmers, healthy livestock means happy lives. When an animal is healthy, the owner or farmer will also be at ease.
Effects of Animal Health
There are areas of people’s lives that are affected by animal health. These are:
1. Economic effects
Animal health directly impacts the economy, especially in developing countries like Kenya. That is because many people here depend on animals to survive for food and livelihood. Many farmers in Kenya rely directly on animal products as their source of income. That means the well-being of their animals is of utmost importance. Healthy animals represent a steady food supply for those who consume animal products. For the pastoralist communities in the country who almost solely depend on animals as a source of food, healthy animals mean food security, with diseases and drought being the greatest enemies in their daily lives.
2. Public health effects
Some animal diseases are transferable to humans, which means unhealthy or diseased animals, especially livestock and pets, can be a danger to their owners or farmers. Tuberculosis, brucellosis, influenza, West Nile disease, and Rift Valley fever are some of the diseases usually transmitted from animals to humans here in Kenya. With that many diseases being transferable from animals to humans, it can be seen that those who interact with animals for extended periods are in danger of contracting these infections.
3. Environmental effects
Animals can pass xenobiotics (antibiotic residues) to the environment. That is usually done through passing waste. That will create antibiotic resistance, which will eventually be passed to humans. Livestock can also pass infectious diseases to wildlife, further spreading the diseases.
4. Animal welfare effects
For the avid animal lover, diseases cause pain and distress to animals. Animals in pain and stress will cause distress to their owners or farmers. That is especially for pet owners, which means that the pet owner will lose their life companion. Therefore, it is in the greatest interests of the animals’ owners to avoid diseases and infections as much as possible.
Maintaining Animal Health
Farmers and pet owners believe that it’s better to prevent animal diseases than cure them. Prevention needs simple measures that anyone can enforce while treatment is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes with adverse side effects on the animal. You can take some steps to keep your animals in good health. The following are the major ones:
1. Proper diet
Like humans, animals need proper nutrition to keep some diseases and infections away. Animal owners should know what kind of food to feed their animals and the intended purpose. Different animals are also fed different types of food, which is also something for the owners to know. The owners should also know the right percentages of the nutrients required for their animals. Most animal owners feed their animals out of obligation, which is the wrong approach to proper feeding.
The best advice to owners and farmers is to have a veterinary doctor advise them on the type of food they need to feed their animals and stick to that plan. Doing that will keep most of the diseases and infections at bay.
Animal owners and farmers should know that growth, reproduction, and the immune system of animals depend on the kind of food they eat. For example, a dairy milk cow on a proper diet will produce more milk than a cow whose owner is ignorant of dietary needs. Animals will also respond well to other routine procedures like vaccines if they are on the proper diet.
2. Proper facilities
Animal health can also be determined by the kind of facilities provided for the animal. The first rule of animal husbandry is the need for a clean, dry, and well-ventilated environment for your animals. A clean environment means that some diseases and infections cannot attack your animals since there are no breeding grounds for the disease-causing bacteria. Animals that have been well fed prefer open areas with plenty of air as their resting place. Scientists have also proven that animals give birth to their young ones in pastures because they consider that place to be clean. That means cleanliness is key to a happy animal.
The best way to prevent diseases and infections is through timely vaccinations. Governments and other concerned agencies require animals, especially livestock, to be vaccinated against some of these diseases. Farmers and animal owners, therefore, adopt good vaccination policies against diseases. The maxim with many farmers is that if a disease or infection has a vaccine, then animals should get the vaccine. Farmers and animal owners should note that only healthy animals are vaccinated and that vaccinating already sick animals does nothing to help the animal and can sometimes be dangerous to the animals. Vaccines can therefore be taken as a sure method of maintaining animal health.
One of the main ways animals, especially livestock, contract diseases is through contact with other animals which may be infected. Farmers and animal owners can also bring animal diseases and infections from different farms and trade fairs to the farm. To ensure proper animal health on the farm, farmers usually quarantine those animals that have been exposed or have come in contact with animals. If an animal has been infected, it will not infect others.
Farmers also change clothes or avoid coming into contact with animals on the farm if they have visited other farms or animal trade fairs. These are necessary measures to ensure that the chances of animals getting infected by diseases from other animals and farms are significantly reduced.
5. Isolation and quarantine
Another way to ensure animal health is through isolation and quarantine. Farmers and animal owners should be very vigilant and inspect their animals for any signs of infections. Should the slightest sign of disease be seen, the infected animal should be immediately isolated from the other animals and quarantined as further medical attention is given. That prevents the further spreading of diseases to other healthy animals. That makes sure that only healthy animals should flock together.
Good vs. Bad Animal Health Signs
There is nothing as fulfilling to a farmer or animal owner as seeing their animal being okay and in good health. But it is a sad affair watching your animals distressed or in pain due to diseases and infections. That is why farmers and animal owners must be able to tell when the animals are okay or when they are sick. The following are the signs to watch out for:
1. Appearance and behaviour
The following are the signs of good health in animals in their appearance and behaviour:
- Good animal health can be exhibited through the alertness of the animal. The animal will be keenly observing the surroundings with interest in what is happening.
- An animal is also in good health when it stands on all its feet and stays together with the other animals in its group. The separation of an animal from the others is a sign of ill health.
- The eyes should be alert and bright. There should be no discharge at the corners of the eyes. Eyes with discharge or dull eyes are a sign of bad health.
- The ears of healthy animals are alert and move in the direction of the sound. The ears are also rapidly moving to get rid of flies. If your animal has dropped ears that do not seem to respond to any sound, then that is a sign of ill health.
- The nose and muzzle of healthy animals should be clean with no discharge. For cattle, the nose should be moist and not dry. In others, like sheep and goats, the nose should be dry. Licking the nose with the tongue is also a sign of good animal health.
- The mouth of healthy animals should be dry, with no saliva dripping on the sides. The chewing should also be rapid, with slow and incomplete chewing a sign of problems with the teeth.
- Healthy animals have healthy appetites for food. The animal should always be eager to feed. If your animal loses appetite, starts to feed on smaller portions of food than usual, or loses interest in food, that is a sign of bad health.
- The coat of healthy animals should be clean, shiny, and smooth. The first signs of bad health in animals manifest through the skin, with hair falling off in unhealthy animals and ruffled feathers in birds.
- Healthy animals will walk with all feet, with no visible signs of discomfort while walking.
- Good animal health can also be observed through the style of movement. The steps should be regular, with no signs of limbing.
- Some animals like horses will stand during rest, with others like cattle preferring to lay down.
- Whenever you approach a healthy animal, it should stand up if it is lying down as a sign of good health.
- Production can also be used to gauge animal health. When the average capacity suddenly goes down, that can be a sign of bad in your animals. That is usually true for animals kept for their output, like dairy cows and chicken layers. In these animals, changes in production capacity are among the first signs of bad animal health. A sudden decrease in milk produced or eggs collected should be immediately investigated.
- In milk-producing animals, any signs of blood or other matter indicate bad animal health and should be investigated immediately. The animal should also not show any signs of discomfort while being milked. A lot of movement while milking may indicate that the udder is painful when touched, which should also be investigated.
Organic Livestock Health
Organic livestock health is achieved through rearing animals in their natural habitat. Organic farmers are not allowed to use antibiotics or growth hormones. Farmers are also allowed to use organic feeds, and the animals should be kept in the natural environment without cages or structures.
Many ask how organic farmers treat sick animals or ensure their production capacities. In treating sick animals, farmers use Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) and treatment methods. Examples of such techniques are herbalism, homoeopathy, acupuncture, and other nonmedicinal ways that can provide relief to the suffering animal. It is important to note that some organic farmers may use modern medicine and antibiotics to treat their animals once the organic methods prove ineffective. Still, they are required to indicate that to the consumers of the products.
Notably, farmers are allowed to vaccinate their animals with routine animal vaccines, but that is the only leeway they have in using modern medicine in organic livestock production. Many farmers know how difficult it is to practice organic farming, with many forced by diseases and lack of enough resources to adapt to modern ways of agriculture.
With many consumers shifting to organic products, organic livestock production is slowly gaining momentum, with many farmers changing to this kind of animal keeping. The known advantage of organic animal products to humans is that they contain fewer chemical traces such as pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and others. That means the final consumers of these products are not exposed to the adverse effects of such chemicals.
Organic livestock health primarily emphasizes the need to prevent diseases and infections regarding animal health. Since it has been established that prevention is better than cure, organic farmers strive to have their animals disease-free. Organic methods of treating sick animals are not very effective, with farmers being forced to adapt to modern-day veterinary medicine to heal their animals.
Since one of the main objectives of keeping animals is for their products, it is right to assume that poor animal health will cause a decline in the production levels of animals. That phenomenon is deeply felt by organic farmers who do not use modern-day techniques to raise their animals. Organic farmers do not use growth hormones and other synthetic products to increase production. They only rely on organic substances to bolster their production, with low availability of such substances.
A few brands have tried to create a niche market here in Kenya by producing organic products that help farmers’ production capacities. One of the leading brands in this market is Biozone, with their range of BioZone Products. This organization deals primarily with natural materials in their production process, certified as organic. The company mainly helps farmers with organic products for dairy cows, layers chicken, broiler chicken, and pigs.
Organic Animal Health Products from Biozone
The following are the leading organic products from Biozone:
Organic milk farmers have very few products that can help them boost milk production on the farms. But that problem has now been mitigated by the availability of the BioZone Milk Booster BFB. This product contains naturally extracted enzymes, minerals, and probiotics which help in the digestion process of animals, especially the lactating ones. Since calcium is absorbed faster in lactating (milking) animals, this booster helps the animal digest food and absorb necessary calcium for milk production.
The other advantages of the BioZone Milk Booster BFB are:
- Increased disease resistance for cattle.
- Increased heat levels, hence increasing reproduction.
- Increased milk production by 15%-20%.
- Regulation of the menstrual cycle, hence increasing the chances of pregnancy.
- The general animal health is improved, especially by decreasing the chances of small diseases like fever or body aches.
This product is available in powder form, with the recommended intake being 30 grams per day per animal. With this product, your cows will get pregnant on schedule, and the overall well-being of the cow will be significantly improved.
The BioZone Broilers Pro BFB is another organic product from Biozone. As the name suggests, this product is for supporting the farmer in broiler chicken n production. The main advantages of this product are:
- Improved body weight at a reduced feeding cost. That means the farmer will get increased profits by spending less on feeds.
- Ensures the availability of phosphorus in the intestines. Phosphorus helps chickens digest calcium and allows the body to use carbohydrates and fats properly, increasing the growth rate.
- It contains Vitamin B and other digestive enzymes that ensure all the food eaten is absorbed by the body, hence increasing body weight.
- It increases disease resistance in chickens hence improving their general health.
- Reduces early chick mortality, the leading primary concern for most broiler farmers.
- Ensures that food is digested and absorbed faster and whole into the body. That means feeding your chicken this product will ensure they reach the optimum weight requirement in less time.
Another purely organic product from Biozone is the BioZone Layers BFB. This product has been formulated to help the farmer in egg production. Most of the challenges experienced by a layers farmer like quality and capacity will be adequately addressed using this organic product. The notable advantages of using this product are:
- Increased absorption of calcium, which improves the overall quality of eggs.
- Increased egg production and hatchability. The ability of the egg to hatch after incubation rises considerably.
- Its a source of Vitamin B and other digestive enzymes, which boost the bird’s overall health.
- Reduces early chick mortality by providing the necessary nutrient requirements for proper growth.
- It helps in the overall digestion and absorption of food, keeping the bird healthy and increasing the egg-laying period.
- Reduces the risk of diseases and infections in birds.
The BioZone Piggyzyme BFB is a pure organic product that helps farmers in pig farming and production. Numerous piglets may be born by the same mother at a time. Many of them may grow weak due to food competition if not adequately taken care of. That is why this naturally produced booster is vital to pig farmers. The leading advantages of this product are:
- Improved disease immunity hence good animal health.
- It prevents intestinal and stomach diseases, which cause high mortality rates in piglets.
- Increases the absorption of food, which helps the pigs grow faster.
- Prevents diarrhoea and dysentery in piglets.
- Increased feed intake by 10%-20% means the piglets will be weaned early.
Poor animal health is a distress to the farmer or owner, with farmers and animal owners finding delight in the excellent health of their animals. However, maintaining good animal health is a difficult task, especially when you don’t know how to prevent diseases and infections in your animals.
Many animal keepers are constantly advised on how they can keep their animals free from diseases. Keeping your animals on proper facilities, diet, and without contact with outside animals are the best ways to ensure that your animals remain healthy.
With many consumers shifting to organic foods, animal farmers need to adapt to this trend. Organic animals are proving to be more marketable and earn more significant profits than conventionally kept animals. Avoiding antibiotics, growth hormones and feeding your animals organic feeds is the best way to turn your animals into organic livestock.