Animal-rearing was originated during the cultural transition from primeval hunting lifestyles to a settled farming way of life. Animals were domesticated by humans for their personal use and their breeding was started to improve upon the living conditions as humans started to settle down and started to produce food for themselves.
Over time, the humans started to found out about the different animals which can be utilized and domesticated for food, farming, protection, transportation and for other purposes to make their own life safe and comfortable and also evolved ways to make the most out of the animals depending upon the traits and the behavior of the animals.
It was initially started with the killing of the animal for food but later evolved to utilize various products of animals for its food and even clothing while the animal was still alive.
Definition of Livestock farming.
Livestock farming means the breeding and management of domestic animal or livestock and obtaining its produce and its meat for their own consumption and also for commercial use and economic activity.
In Livestock farming, various animals like cow, buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, fish, bees and many others are being raised and nurtured and their meat and their produces like milk, eggs, honey, wool, and skin is utilised for human consumption and commercial use.
Significance of Livestock Farming
Livestock farming has many benefits which make it an ideal vocation for many farmers around the world. The main benefits of this are as follows: –
(a) Livestock farming is a fundamental activity in the growth of mankind and maintains to occupy a major place among the prime activities of any country of this world.
(b) It is the second main source of food after crops farming.
(c) Various other industries are directly or indirectly linked to it, like food processing industries, transportation, agriculture etc.
(d) It is one of the most easily manageable and sustainable industry.
(e) It gives employment opportunities to a vast population and helps in the development of a nation’s economy.
(f) Livestock meat and various livestock products are exported to other countries and are a major source of earning revenue for a nation.
(g) Animals are also utilised in agriculture and are also used as means of transportation,
(h) The waste of animals is also utilised as manure for agricultural farms.
Various Categories of Livestock Farming
There are diverse categories of livestock farming systems thatdistinguish themselves by the production procedures that take place in them.
(a) Intensive Livestock Farming
(b) Semi-Intensive Livestock Farming
(c) Extensive Livestock Farming
(d) Nomadic Livestock Farming
(e) Transhumant Livestock Farming
(f) Organic Livestock Farming
Intensive Livestock Farming –
Intensive Livestock Farming is the farming practice in which animals are kept in a rather limited area and are provided with their food and healthcare within that area. The ideal state of temperature and living conditions are provided for the animals to be healthy and their yields to be of better quality. The particularvariety and breed of animals are chosen as per the requirements of the product. As all the requirements of the animals are to be met in the limited area by the humans it turned out to be both capital and labour intensive.
In Intensive Livestock Farming animals do not have large grazing area available for their food but are rather enclosed in a restricted area where the food, water and all other nutrients have to be provided to them and therefore it requires a higher quantity of labour and capital. Physical capital and human labour intend to substitute the requirement of open space, grazing area, and natural resources of water.
This method is largely practised in urban or thickly populated areas where grazing land is inadequate. Feed for the cattle is either grown on the farm itself or is purchased. Cattle do not have to walk in search of food and water thus there is also no risk of diseases transmission from other farm animals. As all animals stay within closed premises it also assists in the accumulation of enough manure for crops and biogas production. This system is labour intensive and requires high initial costs.
Semi-Intensive Livestock Farming
In Semi-intensive livestock farming animals are housed and fed in a sheltered area but are allowed to graze and move around the farm to foragewithin an enclosed area inside the farm.
In the semi-intensive system, cattle are set free to graze and scavenge for some time during the day and in the evening they are again enclosed in the specified area and are provide extra food and required supplements. This system is a blend of intensive and extensive systems.
In this system, only a limited land area of the farm is available for cattle grazing and do not have vast open grazing fields available to them. It is suitable for areas with a growing population and at places where developments have resulted in a shortage of land area.
Extensive Livestock Farming
In an Extensive livestock farming system, large open fields and grazing lands are available for the cattle to scavenge and the cattle are entirely dependent on these vast open grazing lands for their food and water. A very small amount of labour and capital is involved in this practice. Extensive livestock farming is carried out on large areas of land, such as meadows, pasture or mountains so that animals graze and take advantage of the natural resources available in these areas.
As the animals graze in common fields, there are more chances of getting exposed to communally transmitted diseases. The produce per animal is much less in comparison to intensive livestock farming. There is also no accumulation of manure to be utilised by the farmer for his field or commercial purposes. With the land area restricted in most places, this type of farming is not feasible in developed or even semi-developed areas.
Nomadic Livestock Farming
This type of farming is carried out by people who do not have any permanent residence or settlement and roam from one place to another with the change of seasons. These people move along with their complete cattle and animals with the change of season.
Here cattle graze on the vast open lands and are completely dependent on natural land for their food and water. It is generally carried out by people who live in areas where cultivation is difficult and dependency on agriculture is not feasible.
Generally, nomadic peoples stay near forest land and hunt for their food. They are mainly dependent on the forest or the wild. Nomadic farming comprises the breeding of goat, sheep and various other animals and as the cattle grow, they are taken from one place to another wherever they travel.
Transhumant Livestock Farming
Transhumant Livestock farming is one in which the cattle and the animals are moved to different areas depending upon the availability of food and water for them. Farmers stay in that area till the food is available for them and their cattle and with the change of season as the food availability goes down in that region they move to a different part of the region. This type of farming also assists in increasing the fertility of the soil owing to the manure of the cattle.
This type of farming is mostly carried out with the migration of livestock between mountain regions in warm seasons and the plains during the winters. The farmers who are engaged in transhumance farming also carry out some form of crop cultivation, and there is usually some kind of permanent settlement.Transhumance is practised mainly in mountainous terrain and highlands that are too cold to be inhabited and utilized for cultivation and grazing other than in warm seasons.
Organic Livestock Farming.
This system of livestock farming practices the use of only natural food items for animal consumption withoutthe usage of any synthetic chemicals and pesticides on any feed given to the animals. Animals are also not injected with any unnatural substance aimed to increase the amount of produce from them and also there is a restriction on the use of medical drugs,
This system requires a large space to give a natural environment to the animals and it provides a high standard of animal welfare and environmental protection.Disease prevention in organic farming is based on the belief that an animal whendisplay natural behavior, is not subjected to pressure, is fed natural feed, shows a higher ability to deal with infections than animals nurtured conventionally.
Fewer medical treatments would thus be necessary and if an animal would become diseased, alternative treatments instead of conventional drugs should be preferred.
Livestock and Economy
Livestock Farming contributes heavily to the wealth of the particular farmer and also collectively to the economy of the nation. The dairy sector, the meat industry, poultry farming and the textile industry are completely dependent on the livestock, and all these contribute directly to the economy of any country and also gives employment to the vast population of the country. The dairy sector contributes by way of milk and milk products and also indirectly by manure.
Livestock caters for human requirements by way of food, fibre, fuel, fertilizer, skin and even transportation. It not only contributes to the nutritional requirements of the population but also works towards poverty alleviation. The development and long term planning in this sector can bring out more balanced rural development and increase in economic standards of the persons associated with the work.
The livestock sector plays an important role in the socio-economic development of rural areas. A big section of rural households own livestock and most of them are relatively small and landless persons and only a small amount of livestock are kept with them for minor trade and profit purposes.This sector directly impacts the employment, income and poverty reduction of rural areas.
The livestock sector can also become a major source of earning export revenue if developed properly.
Future Prospects in Livestock Farming
The livestock farming sector is likely to come forward as a device for agricultural growth in the coming decades. It is even treated as a budding sector for export revenue. At present livestock farming is one of the rapidly progressing sectors in developing countries which has also given a boost to the overall GDP of the country. There is a necessity to integrate technology to reduce time, to improve the process, breed selection, animal health, and all other aspects related to the livestock farming system.
These are a few ways which can bring sustainable growth in this sector: –
(a) Genetic improvement for livestock.
(b) Intelligent feeding schemes to optimize cost to profit ratio.
(c) Livestock data for the understanding of animal needs and animal tracking.
Livestock farming is a highly evolving sector. In developing countries, it is growing in response to rapidly increasing demand for livestock products.There is a requirement to incorporate technology to generate better product without investing a large amount of effort and money. There is a serious lack of awareness in the general population about the information and the technology available to generate a better output from this practice.
Developments in breeding, nutrition, and animal health will contribute towards increasing the potential production and further genetic gains. Technology is rapidly transforming the livestock sector. The advancement in the past decades has made enormous enhancement in this sector by making the managing of livestock technology-based and thus much easier and much profitable.