Many times we do not acknowledge that this happens and just deem it as a phase that will pass like seasons but is a condition that is deeper than we can be summed up as a failure to ensure that there is adequate energy and protein to meet the needs of maintenance, growth and production for animals. Sufficiency of vitamins, minerals and clean water should also be provided. This affects all livestock small and large and should therefore be monitored and managed across the board. The common causes of starvation Many things contribute to the eventuality of this condition happening, ranging from weather extremities, poor soils and graze/browse to management and environmental as well as health aspects. The common but overlooked ones are:

  • Some animals like goats are often forgotten as they are treated as inferior to larger ruminants.
  • Remote control farming leading to poor care and knowledge on the welfare of ones’ stock.
  • Relying on herd boys at the cattle post to look after livestock.
  • Livestock are left to graze on their own.
  • In experience due to:-
    • Feeding of wrong foodstuffs.
    • Unbalanced diet.
    • Scarcity of feed in winter and during drought.
  • Interference with feeding as a result of:
  • Poor dentition due to old age in some animals, uneven wear of molar teeth resulting in sharp points that cut the tongue and the inside of the mouth. Therefore the animals cannot chew the feed.
  • Mouth sores caused by disease such as Orf (mameza/sore mouth), eating abrasive material or uneven wear of molar teeth.
  • Paralyzed jaw due to vitamin A deficiency leading to blindness.
  • Bullying by stronger goats in the social grouping. The weaker goats cannot go near the feed. This problem worsens when:-
    • A new animal is introduced in an established social group.
    • There is overcrowding in the kraal.
    • Age groups are mixed
    • Horned and polled or disbudded animals are mixed and this encourages fights.
  • Sometimes animals refuse to eat, this could be possibly because of;-
    • Unpalatable feed due to spoilage by mould etc.
    • Change in feed
    • Males at the beginning of breeding season go off feed.
    • When animals are not in good health they often refuse to eat.
  • Starvation can also be caused by failure to increase feed in take to meet production requirements as a result of;-
    • Peak lactation in milking animals especially first time mothers. Allow a 2 year calving/kidding interval to enable them to regain their former body weights. Performance is better at a second lactation.
    • Post parturient toxemia, ketosis, and acetonaemia. He animal goes into negative energy balance.
    • Interference with absorption of nutrients or loss of nutrients as a results of:-
      • Gut problems as a result of worms, coccidian, inflammation of the gut.
      • Liver disease such as abscessation (a collection of pus surrounded by a capsule). This may be secondary to inflammation of the rumen and traumatic reticulitis.
    • Another possible reason for starvation is interference with rumen/intestinal mobility due to:-
      • Chronic rumen impaction.
      • Nail puncturing one of the fore stomachs e.g. reticulum.
      • Tumor mostly, carcinoma. This is not common.
      • Left-sided abomasal displacement.
    • Long standing sickness due to:-
      • Bacterial or viral diseases

Way forward All this are issues that lead to starvation need to equally be addressed with urgency as well as with foresight making sure that they are not going to be an annual repetitive cycle. The animal body needs stability and consistency, if anything fluctuates then performance and the general wellbeing is affected. Better feeding strategies should be done and put in place depending on the purpose or end goal of your stock. Remember healthy animals with excellent body condition scores thrive and deliver tangible results. Lets wise up and practice better management routines….love and take care of your stock and it will reciprocate.