With the extended period of dry weather, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., Ph.D., reminds livestock farmers of the increased threat to the health of their animals and pastures. According to Dr. Bethany Bradford, director of veterinary services for the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, the dry weather puts livestock at risk as pastures dry up and are then unable to provide adequate food and nutrition for animals. Dry, mature grass and brush do not supplythe protein and energy needed to keep animals healthy. Weakened livestock are then more susceptible to worms, ticks and other diseases and may not be able to provide milk for young animals, according to a press release issued Friday from VIDOA.
Livestock farmers are advised to provide extra quality feed at this time of dry weather. Good quality hay is necessary but may not provide sufficient nutrientslike protein. Protein is needed for animals to grow and to produce milk for their young. Farmers can provide protein in the form of grain 16 percent or alfalfa cubes, or by cutting young green tan-tan. Energy can be provided through molasses and corn. However, corn alone does not provide protein.
Additionally, provide a salt block for added nutrition as well as encourage animals to keep drinking during the dry weather for better health.
For more information and assistance, contact the Department of Agriculture on St. Croix at 778-0998, on St. Thomas at 774-5182 and on St. John at 776-6274 or contact the Division of Veterinary Services at 778-0998 ext. 252.