Cattle and swine seminar focuses on nutrition

Cayman animal farm facilities are
clean and well maintained but there are things farmers needed to be aware of
when it comes to cattle and swine nutrition.

The group of farmers, along with
Agriculture personnel attended livestock seminars on cattle and swine nutrition
and importing cattle from the United States at the Agriculture grounds recently.

Visiting animal nutritionist James
Hughes of Quality Feeds Inc. and secretary of the Livestock Exporters
Association of the United States Renee Strickland presented the seminars. Mr.
Hughes gave guidelines on nutrition and Ms Strickland on animal importation.

“As several farmers import animals
from the US, particularly Florida, the Agriculture Department felt that  Ms Strickland’s experience in this field could
provide valuable insights to farmers to help them better understand the process
of importation, how to avoid possible pitfalls and make the process more
efficient and beneficial to them,” said Agriculture Assistant Director Brian
Crichlow.

Ms Strickland advised farmers on
certain times of the year when it is better to select animals to get a better
range; to maximise when it comes to shipping, because freighting is expensive; exporting
younger animals is better; choosing reputable shippers; and what feeds to give
before transportation.

 Although Mr. Hughes said he was impressed with
the Island’s animal facilities, he said most farmers were concerned in the areas
for the need of increase in the demand for local animal products and reduced
feed costs.

When it came to product growth and
high quality of meats, farmers needed to pay close attention to what best to
feed the animals and the various differences it is in cross feeding, said Mr.
Hughes. “If you have pigs stick with pig feeding, if you have cattle stick with
cattle feeding.”

 He instructed farmers to pay close attention
to monograstic vs. ruminant or farmers could get into problems in these areas.

A mongastric organism has a simple
single chambered stomach, whereas ruminants have a four-chambered complex stomach,
said Mr. Hughes. Examples of monogastric animals include humans, pigs, dogs and
cats. Ruminants include cud chewing cattle and goats.

When it came to nutrition, he said farmers
had to look at the whole picture for animals to be at their most sufficient
value.

“Short-changing on nutrients can
cost you money and it is very important to have the protein levels high,” he
said.

Mr. Hughes said protein deficiency would
be seen in reduced growth, milk, feed and infertility.

Mr. Hughes also spoke about energy deficiency
in animals and how what farmers put in the animal could affect their energy
levels.

Farmers were also told they needed
to pay close attention to minerals. Macro minerals are needed the most, which included
calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine and sulphur. 

“The seminars were well received by
the farmers that attended and the Agriculture Department received positive
feedback on all three presentations,” said Mr. Crichlow.