Effects of Altitude and Soil Condition on Animal Production

Altitude refers to the height of a place over and above relative to the sea level which is usually measured in metres. Three plateaux in Nigeria exhibit micro-climatic conditions that differ slightly from the general tropical environment in terms of relatively lower ambient temperature, temperate vegetation and sometimes precipitation.

Effects of Altitude and Soil Condition on Animal Production
Aerial view of herd nelore cattel on green pasture in Brazil

This distinct condition confers on the Obudu Hill, Jos and Mambilla Plateau temperate like micro-environment on these places located within the tropical Nigerian climate. As such, production of cattle and other livestock may take the semblance of the temperate system of animal production. Some of the environmental stress conditions earlier enumerated may be unnoticed or moderated in the elevated places.

Physiological responses of animals supported by favourable micro-climatic condition tend to stimulate improved animal performance in terms of intake and metabolism of nutrients, growth and reproductive activities.

Federal and state governments, organizations and wealthy individual scramble to establish livestock farms on Obudu Hill, Jos and Mambilla Plateau as well as other unique environments in Nigeria to take special advantage of the modified climate in such places for improved animal production and tourism.

Read Also: Problems Confronting Livestock Production

The emerging growth in dairy production in Kenya is partly attributed to high productivity of dairy cattle located on high altitudes and highlands of the country. The geographical principle of “the higher the relative altitude of given place, the cooler it becomes” is characteristic of the micro-climatic phenomenon experienced in most tropical highlands, which has led to improved animal productivity.

The effect of soil condition on animal production is more or less indirect. The nutrient composition in food and forage, and possibly water depends on the soil content of micro and macronutrients.

Relative balance of the required nutrients available for growth, production and reproductive performance in the body system of farm animal derive primarily from soil fertility and retention of nutrients in crops and forage which the animal consume.

Palatability of certain forage feeds has been ascribed to the fertility of the soil. Forage and crop residue upon which tropical livestock survive are known to deteriorate rapidly in nitrogen and biomass contents, and lack in P, Ca and Na partly as a result of soil fertility factors, and these impact seriously on tropical livestock productivity. A few soil borne bacterial diseases such as anthrax and blackleg in contaminated sites may constitute a major problem on animal health.

Read Also: Strategies for Advancing Animal Production

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Benadine Nonye

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