The availability and sustainability of suitable and good quality drinking water is a global concern. Such uncertainties threaten livestock production with an attendant ripple effect on food security. Small ruminants, including sheep and goats, appear to be promising to smallholder farmers in solving this problem because of their ability to survive in water-limited areas and harsh environment when compared with large ruminants. Their small body size is also seen as an advantage, because less water will be required for proper digestion and feed utilization. Therefore, this review will provide information regarding the adaptive responses of small ruminants on thermoregulation, blood metabolites, immune status, drug pharmacokinetics, reproduction and hormonal indices during the period of water stress. Adaptable and indigenous breeds are known to be more tolerant to water stress than selected breeds. A drop in feed intake and weight reduced respiratory rate and increased concentration of blood metabolites are the general effects and/or observations that are encountered by small ruminants during the period of water stress. The concept of water tolerance either as deprivation and/or restriction of indigenous and adaptable breeds of small ruminants is gaining ground in research studies around the world. However, more research, however, seeking to explore water tolerance capacity of adaptable breeds especially in arid and water limiting areas are still needed.
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