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Livestock

Better Care for Cat

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Many farmers keep cats for mousers. Some of these cats are well looked after but many farm cats are not. Most farmers simply view cats as helpers, but not as companions. Some farmers view them as nuisances as their population numbers soon climb out of control.  Often unvaccinated, not wormed, and sometimes underfed in the mistaken belief they will be better mousers, many farm cats die young.

In fairness to the cats as fellow living creatures, this is a proper guide to their care as small guardians of the farm.

Farm cats should be kept socialized to people. Some people think that by estranging a cat they will make it tougher and a better mouser. This is incorrect. In truth most people do not bother socializing their farm cats simply because they do not want to start letting the cats into the house. Cats can be kept friendly and kept outside too. A friendly cat is easier to catch if it needs to be taken to the veterinarian for any reason and will be social to kids or grandkids who come for a visit.

Cats, all cats, should be spayed or neutered once they reach the age of sexual maturity. For females this is six months of age, for males this is between eight and ten months of age. Spaying or neutering reduces a cats desire to wander, and will help them to remain healthier, in fact it removes the threat of them developing some cancers. More than anything desexing a farm cat slows the problem of the farm cat population from skyrocketing out of control (often farmers kill excess kittens if they don’t starve to death first).

Vaccinations are also important. Sadly some rural people couldn’t be bothered with the expenses of vaccinations, but vaccinations can save a lot of money in the long run. Some cat diseases can remain in the environment for long periods of time and will kill generation after generation of farm cat. Rabies is something very well worth vaccinating against as farm cats are often in contact with other animals, such as bats, rats, and so forth, who could carry this deadly disease.

Deworming is another medical consideration. A cat with worms needs to eat more to survive, but additionally it will shed worms into the environment, tapeworm is a particular concern because other species of animal can be infected too.

Cats should be treated for fleas if they have them. Fleas can spread tapeworm but also cause major distress and suffering.

Feeding a cat does not make it a worse mouser. Sadly this is one thing that many farmers actually do not understand. So many think that by starving their barn cats they will be better mousers. In truth they will only kill as many mice as they need to survive, whereas a well fed cat will be more active and will kill out of fun, often killing more mice than the starving cat. Additionally cats forced to survive by eating mice alone will often be full of worms that they picked up from the mice.

Farm cats should have a fresh water source year round. Yes, they can go get a drink out of the water trough, but that usually requires them to perch awkwardly on the edge, risking a fall into the water (not good particularly in the winter). Instead farm cats should be provided with a proper water bowl, ideally one that is heated in the winter so it does not freeze.

Most cats are allowed into the house for the winter months (if not all year) but farm cats are seldom given this luxury. These cats should be given a warm place to sleep in the winter, access to a warm barn or shed. A pile of straw, or box with blankets, in the corner of the barn, or in the feed room, is a great place for a cat to sleep.

Ideally farm cats will be provided with a litter box in the barn for the winter time, otherwise they may use the barn floor, and nobody wants that.

Sadly many farmers view life and death on the farm harshly out of concerns with money. Expenses on a cat seem like unnecessary, especially since there are so many risks of death to a farm cat. One thing is certain though, many of the expenses actually reduce the possibility of death of these cats.

Farmers in need of cats would be wise to note that some shelters adopt out semi-feral cats at low cost or none at all, and these cats are usually already spayed or neutered, and up to date on their vaccinations, they just need a home.


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Sheep Farming

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Study on sheep

Basic as it may sound but the first step in becoming successful is knowing what your business is about. Take ownership and be proactive. Get hungry, grab books that will expand your thinking. Study the different breeds of sheep. Know what they eat, their life span, how they procreate and what climates suit them.

Write a sheep farming business plan

First, determine the purpose of your sheep farm business. Write down areas that you can focus on. Sheep farming can really be profitable. You can focus on wool production which later can be used as material for clothing, shawls, blankets just to mention a few. Another area that could arouse your interest is diary. Sheep produce milk that can be used for cheese and ice cream too. Of course, you can also raise sheep for their meat as well as become a breeder. Definitely, sheep farming has its potential as a lucrative business. Second, determine what type of sheep breed will help you meet your purpose.

Get a sheep farm business license

Before moving on, consult your business plan with a business lawyer. Get the legal aspects of running such a farm done and get over with. Fill up the forms and documents. Get your sheep raising business permits and licenses out of the way. This is a part of the start up cost of a sheep farm business.

Visit a real estate agent

Set an appointment to discuss your location requirements. Share your budget range with him at the beginning of your meeting so as he has an idea which areas to offer you. Aside from visiting a real estate agent, you may want to browse the web or newspaper for existing sheep farms or just farms that could be converted to one which are for sale. Compare prices. Invest in the location that is best for your business plans but will also fit in your budget range.

Invest on additional tools

Make a list of tools you need in running your farm business. Include tools for fencing, trimming, shearing and hay in your list. Browse the web for other tools that can be used in raising sheep and running a farm. Don’t be afraid to experiment with technologies that will make your business run smoother. However you don’t need to purchase them all. Pick the ones you need first.

Set up your farm

Hire a contractor to build a shelter for your sheep. Build a shelter that will protect them from rain and other harsh environments. Have the contractor fortify your piece of land with fencing.

Develop a maintenance plan

Running a farm is a lot of work so consider hiring people to help you. Create a schedule plan for cleaning, trimming, vaccinations and of course dates when to harvest what you planted whether it be wool, dairy, meat or breeding.


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Rearing geese, for ecological farms

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GOOSE, THE robust farm bird, is one of the fastest growing avian species commonly raised for meat. Goose rearing requires little attention and it ideally fits into intensive integrated farming systems (IIFS). Geese offer nutritious meat, large eggs and rich fat for cooking as well as soft down and feathers for bedding and clothing. These birds are particularly appropriate for providing farmers with supplementary income.

Mature geese are independent, larger than other poultry species, and thus less vulnerable to predators. When kept in small flocks and allowed to roam in farmyard or field, they are adept scavengers, requiring less attention than any other domestic bird, according to Dr. Susanne Hugo, an Associate Professional Officer at FAO's Animal Production and Health Division. Geese adapt easily to captivity and if small quantities of supplementary feed are provided in the evening they will even return home by themselves, says Dr. Hugo.

Geese are found all over the world, but their rearing is widely practiced as an economic enterprise in Asia and Central Europe. Most geese are well adapted to hot climates as long as shade is available and to high rainfall regions. They particularly flourish in aquatic regions and marshlands. They do exceedingly well in warm, shallow waterways.

A Chinese goose, which is the most popular breed of goose in South-east Asia, is ideally suited for ecologically friendly IIFS farmers. The Chinese geese are good layers, active foragers, and the most alert and "talkative" birds producing the leanest meat among the various breeds of goose.

Geese can play a crucial role in weed control and pest management in integrated farming systems. They relish grasses and shun most broad-leaved plants. They have shown particular preference to troublesome perennial grasses such as the nut grass (Cyperus rotundus) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). They feed voraciously on various crop residues and are effective in managing aquatic weeds as well. "Geese can be raised well by feeding with cooked rice and a host of other farm-grown commodities.

They are affectionate birds and are loyal to the masters," says Dr. M. J. Narasimhan, a leading physician, who is practicing integrated farming in Morapakkam village near Madurantagam about 90 km from Chennai.

Geese with their sharp eyesight and wide field of vision, combined with their strident calls, make excellent guards against approaching intruders or predators.

They will charge at strangers entering the farms ferociously and they cannot be calmed in to silence by them. They are thus good unbridable watchdogs for the farms. They are known to be messy birds, and it is better to house them little away from the farmhouse. These birds do not require much of a veterinary care.

Geese lay about two clutches of ten eggs each in a year. The eggs on an average will weigh about 115 g each. The eggs can be hatched using a brooder hen or in incubators at a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius, and they hatch in about 40 days, according to Dr. Narasimhan.

The young goslings can be reared in brooders generally used for rearing chicks. The young goslings should not be let in to ponds and pools for swimming.

Only when they are over ten weeks of age, they should be let out to roam freely in the farm. Geese will be ready for mating in about two years, and they should be paired with ganders of same age. One gander is sufficient to fertilise five to seven geese.


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Honey Bee Farming

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Honey Bees live in a well organised colony that does not need to hibernate.From the nectar of flowers they produce honey and store it in wax comb and use the same hive from one year to the next.Actually they store honey in the honeycomb as a food source for the colony.

There are four species of honeybees in India. They are Rock bee (Apis dorsata),Little bee (Apis florea),Indian bee (Apis cerana indica),European bee (Apis mellifera) and Stingless bee (Trigona iridipennis) .

Honeybees help pollinating process in flowers and plants, a vital process that sustains vegetation.Apple, cardamom, cashew, mango, litchi, guava, rubber, mustard,vegetables and coconut are the major crops pollinated by honeybees .In a colony of an average size,there would be about 20,000 to 31,000 bees comprising a queen and a few hundred drones. But 90 per cent of the population is made up of the workers.Indian bee yields 8-10 kg of honey per colony per year.

Honey is extracted only from super combs using honey extractor. The sealing of cells on combs is removed with sharp knife before placing in the extractor. Extracted honey is filtered through muslin cloth.Then Honey is heated to remove wax particles, debris, dust and pollen.Then it is filered and cooled and stored in glass or eathenware container.

Kerala had immense potential for beekeeping, with eight lakh colonies.1 to 1.25 lakh people are engaged in apiculture,mostly as an allied activity. A single hive can yield four to five kg of honey.During 1998-99 honey worth Rs 2.65 crore produced in Kerala .

A HoneyBee Research & Training Centre was established at Vellayani with ICAR assistance in 1994.Training classes are conducted in beekeeping by Kerala Agriculture University .In 2001 Kerala Agricultural University conducted a National Honey Fest .Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Khadi and Village Industries Commission is also promoting apiculture or bee-keeping.Kerala state Horticulture mission is implementing various projects under yield enhacement through bee pollination in horticultural crops through Kerala Agricultural university,Horticorp and Khadi board.The advanced technologies developed by the Kerala University on Honey bee management imparted to bee-keepers helped to enhance the average yield of honey from 2-3 Kg to 20-25 Kg per colony making the industry a profitable one in Kerala. Hence large numbers of new farmers are taking up the industry. The concerted efforts of all those who involved in the industry helped to provide employment potential to the unemployed rural youth and women and thus explored the potential of beekeeping in the State and for the sweet come back.A sustained effort in that direction could increase the number of colonies to 55 lakh in the near future and the income generated could be increased manifold.

Honey is very good for eyes and eye sight,it heals wounds,reduces effects of poison.Honey is an essential ingredient to administer many ayurvedic, unani, homoeopathic and indigenous tribal medicine.

 


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Life cycle of Silkworn

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SILK - WHAT?

Man is always inquisitive for silk products. SILK - The Queen of Textiles, spells luxury, elegance, class and comfort. Mankind has always loved this shimmering fibre of unparalleled grandeur from the moment Chinese Empress Shiling Ti discovered it in her teacup. It withstood many a daunting challenges from other natural and artificial fibres and yet, remained the undisputed Queen of Textiles since centuries. Exquisite qualities.

Like the natural sheen, inherent affinity for dyes and vibrant colours, high absorbance, light weight, resilience and excellent drape etc. have made silk, the irresistible and inevitable companion of the eve, all over the world.

Chemically speaking, silk is made of proteins secreted in the fluid state by a caterpillar, popularly known as 'silkworm'. These silkworms feed on the selected food plants and spin cocoons as a 'protective shell' to perpetuate the life. Silkworm has four stages in its life cycle viz., egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth. Man interferes this life cycle at the cocoon stage to obtain the silk, a continuous filament of commercial importance, used in weaving of the dream fabric.

SILK - WHY?

Silk is a high value but low volume product accounting for only 0.2 % of world's total textile production. Silk production is regarded as an important tool for economic development of a country as it is a labour intensive and high income generating industry that churns out value added products of economic importance. The developing countries rely on it for employment generation, especially in rural sector and also as a means to earn the foreign exchange.

SILK - WHERE?

Geographically, Asia is the main producer of silk in the world and produces over 90 % of the total global output. Though there are over 40 countries on the world map of silk, bulk of it is produced in China and India, followed by Japan, Brazil and Korea. China is the leading supplier of silk to the world with an annual production of 81880 MT (2000). Out of Which the Mulberry raw silk product is 78080 MT.

India is the second largest producer of silk with 17550 MT (2001-02) and also the largest consumer of silk in the world. It has a strong tradition and culture bound domestic market of silk. In India, mulberry silk is produced mainly in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal, while the non-mulberry silks are produced in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and north-eastern states.

SILK - TYPES

There are four major types of silk of commercial importance, obtained from different species of silkworms which in turn feed on a number of food plants. These are:

Mulberry

Tasar

Muga

Eri

 

Except mulberry, other varieties of silks are generally termed as non-mulberry silks. India has the unique distinction of producing all these commercial varieties of silk.

Mulberry:

The bulk of the commercial silk produced in the world comes from this variety and often silk generally refers to mulberry silk. Mulberry silk comes from the silkworm, Bombyx mori L. which solely feeds on the leaves of mulberry plant. These silkworms are completely domesticated and reared indoors. In India, the major mulberry silk producing states are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir which together accounts for 92 % of country's total mulberry raw silk production.

Tasar:

Tasar (Tussah) is copperish colour, coarse silk mainly used for furnishings and interiors. It is less lustrous than mulberry silk, but has its own feel and appeal. Tasar silk is generated by the silkworm, Antheraea mylitta which mainly thrive on the food plants Asan and Arjun. The rearings are conducted in nature on the trees in the open. In India, tasar silk is mainly produced in the states of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, besides Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Tasar culture is the main stay for many a tribal community in India.

Oak Tasar: It is a finer variety of tasar generated by the silkworm, Antheraea proyeli J. in India which feed on natural food plants of oak, found in abundance in the sub-Himalayan belt of India covering the states of Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir. China is the major producer of oak tasar in the world and this comes from another silkworm which is known as Antheraea pernyi.

Eri:

Also known as Endi or Errandi, Eri is a multivoltine silk spun from open-ended cocoons, unlike other varieties of silk. Eri silk is the product of the domesticated silkworm, Philosamia ricini that feeds mainly on castor leaves. Ericulture is a household activity practiced mainly for protein rich pupae, a delicacy for the tribal. Resultantly, the eri cocoons are open-mouthed and are spun. The silk is used indigenously for preparation of chaddars (wraps) for own use by these tribals. In India, this culture is practiced mainly in the north-eastern states and Assam. It is also found in Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.

Muga:

This golden yellow colour silk is prerogative  of India and the pride of Assam state. It is obtained from semi-domesticated multivoltine silkworm, Antheraea assamensis. These silkworms feed on the aromatic leaves of Som and Soalu plants and are reared on trees similar to that of tasar. Muga culture is specific to the state of Assam and an integral part of the tradition and culture of that state. The muga silk, an high value product is used in products like sarees, mekhalas, chaddars, etc.


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