It is intended to speak on this subject in a general manner, as it is one which covers a wide range in relation to animal husbandry. One is not concerned so much with the treatment of diseases in stock as one should be in their prevention, and with animals which receive proper attention and favourable conditions the consequent losses involved can be appreciably reduced and the income of the stock owner accordingly increased.
Nutrition is of primary importance in all animals. Food must be taken in to the body to supply energy and replace waste that results from using the body. It is a tax on a horse to do hard work, on a cow to produce a large flow of milk, on a sheep to produce wool, and on hens to lay eggs. To produce these products requires energy, therefore abundant food is necessary. Foods are given for two purposes—(1) To support the animal, that is to keep its body in good condition: and (2) to lay up a reserve supply for the work the animal has to do. If only enough food is given to maintain the animal's body and keep it alive, the animal cannot work, or if it does work the body suffers from Lack of sufficient nourishment and becomes weakened. To realise a profit on animals, there must be food for growth as well as for service, in addition to mere sustenance. In the draught horse, the reserve supply enables the muscles to be kept in repair and provides the energy for work. In the cow, the reserve supply is used in the manufacture of milk. In the sheep, it goes to produce wool and mutton.
A striking instance of mortality in stock, which it was my duty to investigate, occurred during last spring. which was definitely due to malnutrition, resulting in the loss of approximately 50 head of store cows which were grazing on bone chewing country, carrying a good growth of natural pasture consisting of mixed grasses, mainly couch. wallaby, paspalum, clover and summer grass. Although the cattle affected had daily access to an abundance of natural pasture, the material available was deficient in calcium and phosphates as well as protein. Conditions such as these can be prevented and avoided by a system of pasture improvement which will provide suitable nutrition.
The quantity or portion of food that is given to an animal in 24 hours is spoken of as a ration. A maintenance ration is that part of the ration that is necessary to maintain or keep up the animal's body. It includes all the ration except the part that is used for work or production. There is much water in all parts of the body. It becomes part of all bone and flesh. It is used to transport or carry the building material just as it is in plants. The blood is largely water. Animals require at all times an abundant supply of good drinking water.
Mineral matter is found in bones, in blood, and in the protoplasm which exists in the cells in all parts of the body. The mineral is supplied to animals in their feed. It comes from the mineral parts of plants and is taken by the plants from the soil.
Nitrogenous matter is usually spoken of as protein. Mesh, skin, muscle, hair, wool, horn, hoof, feathers, blood, lean meat, white of egg, and the curd of milk, are rich in protein.
Fat is reserve food or that laid by for special or later use. The amount of it in the body will vary with the age of the animal, the work it does, and the kinds and amounts of food given. The lean animal seldom contains leas than 5% of fat, and the fattest seldom exceeds 30% of fat. Fat producing materials are given to animals in the form of starches and sugars such as they are found in the plants. These materials are called carbohydrates.
The nitrogenous part of hay or any other foodstuff builds up the working portion of the body. They are muscle makers. Nitrogen is required by the animal for the producing of certain products, eg., eggs, milk, feathers, wool, etc.
The nitrogenous matter, the carbohydrates, and the fats are the food elements that the farmer must provide for his stock.
Air is necessary to the animal as to the plant. Energy is supplied by a burning of the tissues in the animal's body just as it is created in a steam engine by the burning of fuel. Animals that are stabled should be stabled in well ventilated, clean stables. Good quarters must be provided for all stock. The buildings must afford shelter from storm, protection from excessive heat and cold, proper ventilation, and must admit sufficient sunlight so as they will be always bright, fresh and dry.
Animals need rest periods to relax the muscles and to repair broken down tissue. Exercise is essential to the healthy development and maintenance of all creatures. It stimulates and strengthens the organs, and this lends to keep the animals vigorous and to prevent disease. Animals require clean food, clean water and clean quarters, and must themselves be kept clean. Filthy conditions breed disease.