Farming involves not just cultivating and harvesting plants and food crops but also the breeding and caring of animals for dairy, meat, and other animal products. The scientific name for this process is called animal husbandry.
What is Animal Husbandry?
Animal husbandry is the scientific name for the breeding and caring of farm animals that is a major source of income for farmers. Livestock raising and selective breeding involve a lot of science and technology, and without this industry, it would be difficult to meet the global demand for animal products. Dairy farming, poultry farming, apiculture, pisciculture, equine farming, etc., are some types of livestock rearing.
We use animal products every day, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Read ahead to know more about just how important animal husbandry is as a science and an ever-growing, evolving industry.
How does Animal Husbandry help?
In Production of dairy and dairy products
You know how you love that indulgent dollop of cream or a splash of milk in your coffee? Forget cream, don’t you think the world is a better place because of cheese?
Perhaps the most important type of animal husbandry includes dairy farming which deals with the breeding, care, and management of cows, goats, and buffaloes for milk and other dairy products like curd, butter, cream, and cheese.
Dairy farming varies greatly across the globe, but right from the smallest of farmers, to large-scale industrialists, everyone will agree that it is a labor-intensive job to milk the animals. This is why advances have been made to increase milk production more efficiently and effectively, to get a much larger yield to meet the demands.
In Production of meat
Just like they are used for their milk and milk products, animals like cows, goats, sheep, and buffaloes are reared for their meat. Meat is a staple in most households, and there is an ever-present demand in the market for different cuts of meat.
For Land Management
Not only do livestock contribute to increasing profit, they are also used to control and monitor the growth of weeds on agricultural land. How?
When you let cattle graze, they automatically find food sources and eat up dry shrubs or overgrown grass and weeds. Rearing cattle is a great way of land management.
What goes in must come out, right? But what comes out can go right back into the soil. Yes, I’m talking about manure. By-products and I use this term loosely, like excreta, and even the blood and bones of animals that have perished, go right back into the ground to be used as manure to enrich the soil, fertilize it and make it rich with nutrients that will increase yield when cultivating crops.
This manure is also used as fuel and is considered to be an eco-friendly way of utilizing biofuel.
Animals are also considered to be a source of non-human labor and are used to plow fields, transport goods, and people and for all kinds of jobs around the farm. Horses, yaks, donkeys are popular load animals.
Advantages of Animal husbandry
When you keep track of your animals, when you can account for them, keep them well-fed and disease-free in good health, you are ensuring that you are making the best possible use of the resources available to you. Many farmers believe that if they care for their animals, their animals will, in turn, take care of them, feed them with their milk and meat, and give them a source of income.
Animal husbandry also helps farmers to control and check unrestricted breeding. It keeps a check on the animals to prevent uncontrolled reproduction.
It also provides employment to a large number of farmers, depending on the scale at which it is being practiced.
The selective and scientific process can be optimized to the fullest to meet commercial requirements for food like dairy and meat products from cows, goats, and other cattle. It helps develop high- yielding breeds of animals through cross-breeding. This will invariably increase production and, subsequently, the sale of animal products.
As specified earlier, it also involves the proper disposal and utilization of animal waste and promotes a healthy and clean environment.
Apart from manure, wool and leather are also by-products that have a huge demand in the market.
When animal husbandry is practiced on a large scale as it often is, it also contributes towards strengthening the economy of the country. How? Are you familiar with Wagyu beef, perhaps? One of the four Japanese breeds of cattle, Wagyu beef, is in great demand all over the world. A cut of high-grade wagyu can cost around $200, while the cow itself can sell for as much as $30,000. Similarly, there is a huge demand for Russian caviar, cheese from Italy, and other indigenous animal products. Exporting animal products to other countries adds to the country’s revenue.
Changing Role in Today’s World
While the demand for animal products is still thriving and its needs and uses are ever-evolving, the last couple of decades have seen a rise in new trends and lifestyle changes.
While vegetarianism merely excludes the use of animal meat, it still allows animal products like dairy, honey, wool, and leather.
However, there has been a slight decline in animal husbandry compared to plant production, or more specifically, giving up animal products in favor of plant-based products.
Veganism is a lifestyle that attempts to exclude all animal products in the belief that there exists deep-rooted exploitation in rearing animals, specifically for their meat, their skin, and their products.
But apart from the cultural and ethical ramifications of animal husbandry, there also exists ecological and economic problems.
There have been worldwide outcries that animal farming has become disastrous for the environment and has become responsible for a widespread loss in biodiversity, the destruction of natural habitats, and water pollution.
Excessive and widespread feeding and grazing over the decades has affected soil integrity and structure, leading to soil degradation and subsequent erosion.
It has also been researched that greenhouse gases from animal and livestock farming-methane and nitrous oxide that arise from large-scale manure storage- are heavy contributors to climate change.
3) Extensive versus modern animal husbandry – pros and cons. B. Antunović (PDF) https://core.ac.uk/reader/233610350