Veterinarian advises on hygiene to avoid mortality.
Speaking in an interview recently, the veterinary officer for the Central District, Dr Jaone Sebina said the current poor and unhygienic animal husbandry practices caused a huge loss in kids and lambs.
The warning followed a recent outcry by farmers regarding the high mortality rate of new born kids and lambs two to three months after birth. Dr Sebina said kids and lambs, just like new born babies, were neonates and required certain standards of hygiene and care, explaining that just like the maternity wing of a hospital requires hygiene standards, cleanliness was paramount for kidding and lambing pens.
The veterinary officer stated that animal kraals in Botswana were characterised by huge piles of manure which harboured germs and parasites which could cause diarrhoea and death in kids.
He said when neonates were dropped into the manure piles, infection entered through the navel or ruptured umbilical cord.
Furthermore, Dr Sebina warned against the practice of confining kids and lambs in small pens, saying as they grew, they started to have interest in food and explored by nibbling on dung pellets, thereby ingesting polluted food.
He said it was important for kids to be delivered and raised in clean pens, emphasising the need for pens to be swept regularly to reduce manure accumulation.
Dr Sebina explained that neonates should have their ruptured umbilical cords disinfected immediately after birth to close infection entry points. He also stated that prevention of diseases through vaccination was effective and cheaper than treatment with antibiotics, adding that improper usage of antibiotics would lead to antibiotic resistance.
He further said kids and lambs should be born from animals that had been vaccinated to prevent diseases, saying the mothers would then be able to use the immunity to protect the neonates until they lost maternally derived antibodies at about two months.
Dr Sebina advised that the goat mothers should be vaccinated against common diseases such as pasteurella, pulpy kidney and other common diseases.
Furthermore, he said the mothers should have gone through a continuous de-worming process to get rid of of internal parasites that were common in goats across the country.
Dr Sebina also emphasised the importance of neonates to consume colostrum immediately after birth (within the first two hours of birth) before the intestines closed for absorption.
He explained that through colostrum the mother passed important antibodies for protection against diseases to the neonate, which should protect the kid or lamb for the first two months after birth. After two months, he said the kids should be immediately immunised against pasteurella and pulpy kidney, preferably using a cocktail vaccine to protect against many diseases.
He also mentioned that vaccination should be repeated three times at four weeks interval to ensure optimum generation of protective antibodies.
Dr Sebina said deworming should be done every 14 days, adding that deworming could be done for four months until they were six months and then frequency reduced to 28 days.
The veterinary officer said revaccination of kids and lambs could be done at six months old together with adult breeding goats and sheep before the mating season for them to carry on the antibodies to the next set of kids and lambs to be born.