Cattle suffer from ‘pica’

MATTER OF CONCERN: Stray cattle eating paper and polythene near Khallikote College in Berhampur on Thursday.—

MATTER OF CONCERN: Stray cattle eating paper and polythene near Khallikote College in Berhampur on Thursday.—   | Photo Credit: Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Sib Kumar Das

BERHAMPUR: Cattle in urban areas are eating unpalatable from garbage, even plastic, meat and excreta.

Although their owners do not realise, yet these poor animals suffer from the disease ‘pica’, which causes this drastic aberration of their feeding habit. Symptoms of Pica includes persistent licking, chewing or eating things that are usually uneatable for a cattle like soil, paper, plastic etc. “Pica can occur in all types of cattle and is mainly an outdoor problem. However, housed calves also develop navel-sucking, hair-licking or may lick plaster off the walls”, said Binod Mishra, the retired deputy director in the State Veterinary Department.

Pica is caused due to several reasons. In sporadic cases it happens due to brain disorders caused by lead poisoning, rabies and some metabolic diseases. But among the urban cattle like the ones left to roam in the open by their owners it is caused mostly by mineral deficiency, under nutrition and with low-roughage feeds, said Mr Mishra. Grazing fields are no more available inside a city like Berhampur. But a group of cattle owners still prefer to leave their bovine pets out in the open to search their own food in the urban jungle. The cows are only searched for when they are to be milked. These undernourished animals fall prey to ‘Pica’.

Some of them also start drinking urine of other cattle. They start eating the waste near the meat and fish shops and at times excreta of humans and other animals. Consumption of plastic waste at times kills the animal and eating of uneatable things can affect the palatability of the milk produced by the animal suffering from ‘Pica’, said Mr. Mishra.

Despite much sloganeering for cattle protection neither the owners of these urban stray cows nor the activists of cattle protection groups take any remedial measures for these ailing animals suffering from ‘Pica’.

Provision of extra roughage like straw or hay and inclusion of vegetable or fruit pulp in feed can help these animals. Blood tests of these animals can trace deficiency of minerals like sodium, magnesium or phosphorous in their body.

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