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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The challenge of feeding diseased livestock.

The challenge of feeding diseased livestock is worthy of note because nutrient requirements for fighting disease are quite different from those required for productive purposes. The efforts exercised by researchers, nutritionists and veterinarians,to have a clear understanding of how to feed animals under disease stress is paying off in terms of different intervention techniques. Presently the aim is to prevent disease mostly through nutrition and by a mild veterinary intervention scheme that focuses on hygiene and soft medicinal solutions. Sick animals are treated with invasive medical methods and the nutrition of such animals remains unchanged as the same feed is offered to healthy or sick animals,this is where the problem lies. There is a need to establish clear nutritional guidelines for treating animals that are stressed because of disease both clinically and even sub clinically. Sick / diseased animals exhibit anorexia, or they simply don’t eat much or even at all, which is usually the most common sign if not the key pointer that something is wrong. The question now is what is anorexia and what is its role in disease management? Anorexia is a response exhibited by a diseased animals as they attempt to reduce the metabolic burden from feed and switches focus from productivity such as growth, eggs, milk, pregnancy and maintenance but towards fighting the disease. Anorexia is a method with which the animal tends to stem tide of infection or limit the activity of pathogens by boosting the immune system. The challenge of feeding diseased livestock is significant to animal health because of the role of anorexia in diseased animals or stressed animals. When an animal is off-feed or anorectic,reduction of nutrient ingestion limits the extent of pathogen proliferation especially in the case of gut bacteria. The pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract that hitherto had unlimited access to nutrients from feed, are starved limiting the rate of proliferation and if the digestive system is impaired as is often the case with gastrointestinal disorders,this is a double plus for the benefit of anorexia. The feed intake reserves more energy for immune system functions,and such energy is derived from body fat reserves.The prolonged dependence on these stores emaciates animals,though at the onset, it is actually beneficial for the animal to draw on reserves. When the animal is off feed glucagon production is enhanced and the immune system response is thus enhanced in turn creating an environment to rid body of pathogen. The challenge of feeding diseased livestock is that although anorexia is beneficial at onset of disease,prolonged anorexia results in profound emaciation from which recovery may be prolonged.Another challenge of feeding diseased livestock is that diseased animals require more nutrients than healthy animals,the twist is that force-feeding sick animals results in increased mortality and reduced survival time. The challenge of feeding diseased livestock now is that since the role of anorexia to curtail the infection is understood,and the danger of prolonged anorexia is also known then the time of intervention and type of intervention is the key to successful treatment.