Diet for draft dodgers
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CTA. 1996. Diet for draft dodgers. Spore 63. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47337
Farmers in semi-arid West Africa could get more work out of their oxen simply by slightly modifying the way they manage their animals, according to a recent report from the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine (CTVM), Edinburgh, UK and the...
Farmers in semi-arid West Africa could get more work out of their oxen simply by slightly modifying the way they manage their animals, according to a recent report from the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine (CTVM), Edinburgh, UK and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya. Key elements among the report's recommendations are that farmers should use larger-framed oxen, keep them 'in 'training' by working them during the dry season, and work them during the cool periods of the day The study found that the amount of work draft oxen can do is more dependent on their body weight than on their body condition, so farmers should select large-framed animals. Trying to keep oxen in good condition during the dry season is largely a waste of feed: the better the initial body condition of the oxen, the more weight they lost when working. A better strategy is to feed the oxen well after the working period, as they then rapidly regain the live weight lost through compensatory growth. The report highlights the need to keep oxen 'm training during the dry season. In semi-arid areas the growing season is short, so farmers need their draft animals to work hard from the outset. Trials showed that the amount of work oxen could do increased as the sea progressed, indicating that the animals were 'out of practice at the start of the season. Farmers could therefore get more work out of their oxen at the beginning of the rains by making them pull carts throughout the dry season. The report also recommends that farmers work their animals during the cool periods of the day and provide shade and water during rest. This is based on findings that power output was greatest when air temperature was lowest, and that extra water also boosted power output. It would seem that the extra water helps the animals dissipate excess heated stored during work. Feeding practices will obviousIy affect how much work the animals can do, and the report makes a number of recommendations on how to feed oxen better. These focus on making better use of local roughages by supplementing them with brans, oilseed cakes and hay wherever available. Feed is plentiful during the rainy season and farmers must do more to conserve this feed for use during the dry season, the report states. Incorporating these feeding and work strategies into the existing farming systems in semi-arid areas will enable farmers to make more efficient use of their draft animals. 1 Mr Abdou Foll CTVM Easter Bush Roslin Midlothian EH25 9RG UK