Improving the Health of Sheep and Goats
As in much of Africa, livestock in Mali is grazed on communal land. The flocks owned by different families or individuals compete for grazing and water. Optimal management practices are difficult to implement due to competing family agendas. Contagious diseases spread quickly among intermingled flocks. Controlled breeding is impossible when intact males run freely with the female and young stock.
There is minimal genetic improvement, supplementary feeding or veterinary care for sheep and goats. Malnutrition during the dry season is the major cause of poor growth and stomach parasites are a major cause of death. Productivity under this system is extremely low and losses resulting from mortality and poor growth rates are high.
Veterinarian supply centers and animal health trainings were established at six farmer cooperatives. The supply centers provide basic medication and tools to be purchased and replenished by the farmers as used.
Participants develop skills and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of common livestock diseases not generally requiring treatment by veterinarians (e.g., internal and external parasite, poor nutrition, lameness) through the use of: hands-on field training, and the “See one, do one, teach one” method.
Flock surveillance included noticing behaviors such as: standing alone, poor appetite, abnormal walking or other muscular movements, hunched back, diarrhea, abnormal respiration, or grinding teeth. The farmer’s flock or a market animal considered for purchase can be screened in a few minutes for common issues.
A treatment rubric was developed for the cooperative members utilizing simple Body Condition Scoring, respiration and temperature. A veterinary medical treatment and diagnosis ‘kit’ was provided to the cooperatives to sustainably manage their resources. Each medicament was price structured so that members could purchase items on a ‘per pill’ or’ per ml’ basis as needed and thereby maintaining a stable inventory.
Veterinarian supervision was provided to the cooperative members and the University of Segou Animal Science students during their field internship by MEDIVET, Bougouni, and the Private Veterinary Unit, Koulikoro.
This project implements a community livestock health care and nutrition supplementation program. Members are trained to reduce the prevalence of locally challenging diseases and low nutrition diets. Emphasis is placed on livestock surveillance of physical condition, disease prevention and early treatment.
Long term sustainable impacts include:
- Best Practices to reduce the prevalence of poor nutrition, lack of clean water and infectious diseases
- Alternative feed sources to improve nutrition especially during the dry season using locally available supplements
- Accessibility to small ruminant preventative health services
- Coordinated health care within and between village cooperatives
Participatory Training Topics
Workshop topics include nutrition requirements throughout the life cycle (i.e., pregnancy, lactation, young stock, maturity); utilizing locally available supplemental feeds during the dry season (i.e. cassava silage and dried ground nut vines); and instruction on identifying and treating small ruminant common medical problems.
The importance of quarantining all new animals in an isolated area for observation is stressed and appropriate location selected. Hands on training with stethoscopes and thermometers, methods of estimating and recording weight gain, and evaluating and using locally available livestock medications is standard. The required supplies are provided to the cooperative president to be used by members as needed. These supplies include laminated handouts, stethoscopes, thermometers, preventative medications, weight tapes, and liquid dosing syringes.
The regional agriculture extension agent is included in the trainings and provides information on regional resources and the government recommended vaccination program. When appropriate a vaccination schedule is established and implemented with the support of the local extension agent and the local veterinarian clinic if available.