Livestock Farming: Now and Then

livestock farmingSince ancient times, livestock farms have provided us with eggs, honey, meat, milk and other produce. Moreover, the skins and the hair of these animals have been used to make blankets, clothing and shoes. The word “Livestock” refers to domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labor and commodities.

Types of Livestock Farming

Traditionally farms are used to raise cattle or dairy cows, chickens, goats, pigs, horses and sheep. Nowadays, livestock farming is still the rearing of animals for food and for other purposes, but the farmers are constantly concerned about improving the methods of breeding. In present days even animals like mules, donkeys, rabbits and insects such as bees are being raised as part of livestock farming.

The classification of the livestock can be made considering many factors such as:

  • Depending on the food and feeding methods

  1. Extensive farming

    – grazing livestock – animals fed on the grass;

  2. Confined livestock

    – animals are kept in cow sheds and eat feed;

  3. Semi-confined livestock

    – in summer, animals eat grass, and in the winter when there isn’t enough grass they eat fodder.

  • Depending on the mobility of the livestock

  1. Nomadic herding

    – Herders and their families are constantly moving with their animals;

  2. Transhumance

    – Seasonal migration, herders move their animals several times a year among summer pastures;

  3. Sedentary livestock farming

    – Animals don’t have to move around to get food because farmers give them fodder.

Nowadays, livestock farming ensures all the conditions to increase the production – the animals have food, water and shelter. Regarding the shelter, most of them are usually kept in enclosures – indoor or outdoor. Many people criticised indoor environments for several reasons such as – welfare reasons and the pollution.

Ranches and fenced pastures are the desirable types of outdoor farming of livestock. Outdoor farming of livestock stands for rearing animals in bigger enclosures like ranches and fenced pastures. Farm animals are happier in those type of enclosures because they are allowed to graze. Moreover, if the nutritional requirements are provided, this will improve the growth and production of the animals.

Modern times created a favourable context for the development of some breeding practices:

  • Selective Breeding:

    mating the best males and females, both related or unrelated;

  • Artificial Insemination:

    artificially inseminating a female animal with semen from a superior-quality male;

  • Embryo Transfer Techniques:

    A genetically enhanced fertilized egg which is transferred from the reproductive tract of a special breed cow into the reproductive tract of a second cow.

Importance of livestock production

Livestock production has played an important role for the humanity since ages because is:

  • Source of Food

Livestock provides some basic foods for humans such as – meat, milk, butter, eggs which is an excellent source of a balanced diet.

  • Necessary for Agriculture

In some countries, small farmers can’t afford to use machinery because is very costly so about 75% of agriculture depends upon the cattle for the cultivation of the land.

  • Use of transportation

In the past, cattle were mainly used for transportation. Nowadays there are still some countries where livestock is the main means of transport for some people. The increasing of livestock production could be related to many factors:

Firstly, the status of the health is very important. Sick animals can make other animals sick and even people. Farmers should be cautious in order to prevent transmissible diseases by taking measures such as improving the hygiene, quarantining new arrivals on farms or the animals affected by the disease. Mismanagement and poor welfare can expose animals to parasites and diseases. Recent researches show that many young animals die of disease before they can lactate, reach slaughter weight or reproduce.

Secondly, providing the farm with quality fodder is one of the most vital conditions to have healthy animals and to increase the production of the livestock.


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