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Agriculture Advises Farmers of Potential Livestock Health Problems Due to Weather

Because of the extended period of dry weather, the Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen Jr. is alerting livestock farmers about the increased threat to the health of their animals and potential damage to their pastures caused by the dry weather, according to a press release issued on Thursday by the V.I. Department of Agriculture.
“With the dry weather, livestock and horses are at risk for disease and malnutrition because the pasture grasses have dried up and are no longer nutritious. As a result, the pastures are damaged by overgrazing, and the animals do not have adequate food and nutrition which puts them at risk for disease,” Petersen said.
According to Dr. Bethany Bradford, director of Veterinary Services for VIDOA, the dry grass and brush do not supply the protein and energy needed to keep animals healthy. Weakened livestock are then more susceptible to worms, ticks and other diseases, and cannot provide milk for young animals.
Bradford advises livestock farmers and horse owners to provide extra quality feed during this time of dry weather.
“Farmers need to provide protein in the form of grain 16 percent or alfalfa cubes or hay or by cutting young green tan-tan or grass,” she said.
Molasses and limited amounts of corn can also provide much needed energy as feed during dry weather. However, corn and molasses do not provide protein.
Bradford also recommends providing a salt block for added nutrition, as well as to encourage animals to keep drinking during the dry weather for better health.
For more information and assistance, call the Department of Agriculture on St. Croix at 778-0998, on St. Thomas at 774-5182 and on St. John at 776-6274.

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