Diseases affecting farm animals such as sheep are seasonal, endemic, and lead to severe economic loss, especially when say 10 to 40 animals die in a herd.
“Often poor management practices lead to such casualties. In many cases immediate veterinary attention may not be possible, as some villages are quite remote and contacting a local doctor from a nearby town takes time,” says Mr. P. Vivekanandan, Executive Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Voluntary Action (SEVA), Madurai.
Seva undertook a pilot study at Nallampalayam village, Erode district (1,028 sheep from 40 farmers), and the other at Vembur, Tuticorin district (1,357 sheep from 32 farmers), to test the effectiveness of ancient traditional management practices being practiced by sheep farmers in olden times.
These two places are famous for sheep husbandry and well known breeding tracts of two prominent sheep breeds — Meicherry and Vembur.
Every month farmers from the two areas under supervision from seva staff administered a mixture of several herbs (called masala bolus) and a herbal dewormer alternatively (first month masala bolus and next month herbal dewormer) for nearly six months to their animals.
At the end of the project more than 90 per cent of sheep farmers expressed satisfaction on their animals' health, compared to previous years' causalities, due to diseases such as Blue tongue and Foot and mouth disease.
Explaining the procedure for making the bolus Mr. Vivekanandan says:
The masala bolus, the size of big amla fruit, weighs about 20 gm and is made from (all Tamil names and Botanical names are italicized): Kandankathri (Solanum surattense), Thumbai (Leucas aspera), Kuppaimeni (Acalypha indica), Veeli leaves (Cadaba farinosa), Peruthumbai (Leucas martinicensis), Usilai (Albizia amara), Thulasi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Avarampoo (Cassia auriculata), Moongil (Bambusa arundinacia), Puliampirandai (Vitis setosa), Thuthi (Abutilon indicum), Musumusukkai (Mukia maderaspatana), Kolunchi (Tephrosia purpurea), Manjanathi (Marinda tinctoria), Veliparuthi (Pergularia daemia), Nilavembu (Andrographis paniculata), Virali (Dodonaea viscosa)and Mavilangam (Crateva adansonii). (50 grams each of the above materials are taken, shade dried, pounded well and stored).
In addition, Thippili (Piper longum), Seeragam (Cuminum cyminum), Sombu (Foeniculum vulgare), Perungayam (Ferula asafoetida), Valmilagu (Piper cubeba), Sukku (Zingiber officinale – dried), Pepper (Piper nigrum), Chillis (capsicum annuum), Kasakasa (Papaver somniferum), Lavangam (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum), Omam (Trachyspermum ammi), Seeds of coriander (Coriandrum sativum) (10 grams each and pounded well).
Banana (Musa paradisica) one infloresence, unripe Kaleathi fruits (Ficus tinctoria), Guava bark (Psidium guajava), Sotru katralai (Aloe vera), Garlic (Allium sativum) and Kollankovaikilangu (Corollacarpus epigaeus) 100 grams each, Pirandai (Cissus quadrangularis) 500 grams, Onion (Allium cepa) 250 grams, Coconut (Cocos nucifera) one, are also used.
All the above mentioned materials are ground, mixed well, and made into boluses (weighing 100 grams) and dusted with turmeric powder. It is ideal to administer the bolus twice daily for three days in the morning and evening. (The shelf life is for three days).
“Before administering the bolus, a venous puncture is made with the help of sterile needle in the dark green vein visible on the ventral side of the tongue.
“Later using common salt and tamarind fruit (Tamarindus indica), rub the upper surface of the tongue. [This can be practised with the help of expert healer],” explains Mr. Vivekanandan.
“We recorded positive results in cows and an increase in milk yield (upto 3 litres a day) in Umbalachery cattle in Madurai, Thoothukkudi, and Nagapattinam districts,” he says.
So far, more than 12,000 animals (both sheep and cattle) have been administered the masala bolus.
“This traditional practice existed many centuries ago, is cheaper than chemical treatment and many livestock keepers developed the skill of preparing and administering it,” says Mr. Vivekanandan.
For more information contact Mr. P.Vivekanandan, at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0452 - 238 09 43 and 238 00 82 (off) and 0452- 238 36 19 (r).