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Role of Nutrition in Health Management

Disease is not always caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Disease can also result from nutritional deficiency. A lack of the necessary minerals, vitamins and other nutrients may also inhibit the body's immune response - increasing chances of infection and decreasing the body's ability to combat infection. The high yielding animals need special care in feeding and management. Certain diseases occur due to faulty feeding management practices. Sudden portioning of nutrients in excess than supply also causes certain metabolic disorders. The direct effects of animal diseases on livestock productivity are significant and include reduced feed intake, changes in digestion and metabolism, increased morbidity and mortality and decreased rates of reproduction, weight gain and milk production.

The metabolic disorders often encountered are related to production especially in high yielding animals and thus are also called production diseases. The nutritional and metabolic disorders in cattle and buffaloes include

·         Indigestion

·         Acidosis

·         Tympany

·         Milk fever

·         Ketosis

·         Hypomagnesaemic tetany

·         Pica

·         Haemoglobinurea

·         Rheumati  sundrome  

·         Selenium toxicity

·         Vit A deficiency syndrome

·         Plant poisoning etc.

The interactions between disease, nutrition and genetic selection emphasize the need to control the effects of both epidemic and endemic diseases before programs introducing enhanced livestock nutrition and improved breeds can make an impact. However, productivity and economic gains will not necessarily be achieved by disease control alone and an integrated approach is required.

On the other hand it is now widely understood that improved feeding and nutrition with careful attention to the animals' seasonal requirements - has an important role to play in the control of diseases. Simply put, an animal with an adequate diet is more likely to be healthy than one with a poor diet.

It is important to recognize that better feeding of livestock covers:

·         the quality or types of foods supplied, or given access to,

·         the quantity of food,

·         as well as adjusting for seasonal requirements

Some diseases that an animal can develop are entirely due to poor diet (rather than infection by bacteria or viruses). This may be because the feed contains a toxin that harms the animal directly, or it may be because the diet is deficient in a particular nutrient (energy, vitamin or mineral) and the animal then develops a "deficiency disease".

The development of infectious diseases can also be affected by the animal's diet, as the proper functioning of the animal's immune system (the system that fights off infectious disease) needs an adequate supply of protein, vitamins and minerals. Nutrition therefore also plays a key role in the balance of health and disease, which will decide whether an animal (when exposed to a disease-causing bacterium or virus) stays healthy or succumbs to disease.

When an animal is exposed to a bacterium, virus or other infectious agent, the animal's immune system mounts a response to fight off that infection. This includes raising antibodies to fight the infection, as well as using white blood cells and other "killer" cells to attack anything (such as a virus) that it recognizes as "foreign". To mount this kind of response clearly needs energy, materials for manufacturing the antibodies and cells, and other factors involved in communicating messages in the parts of the animal's body involved with fighting infections.



Mandal, A.B., Paul, S.S. and N.N.Pathak. 2003. Nutrient Requirements and Feeding of buffaloes and cattle. International Book Distributing Co., Lucknow.


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