What is Livestock Farming?
Livestock farming is the process of breeding domesticable farm animals or livestock for purposes such as extracting their meat, obtaining their products (such as hairs, milk, bones etc. used as raw materials), consumption as food or for human pleasure.
The economic target of livestock farming is not limited to only raising livestock for human consumption, it involves breeding livestock for their industrial’s importance in income generation and reduction of unemployment by creating wealth through production.
Livestock farming can also be explained as the economic practice of breeding domestic animals for human use, environmental engagement and the production of meat, honey, fur, wool, among other products.
Current overview of livestock production
Livestock which includes goats, cattle, snails, poultry, pigs, fishes and honeybee is as old as man and has been part of man’s environmental development.
Livestock production is one of the oldest viable economic actives of man and has played a huge part in the development of man’s environment by solving man’s glaring natural and environmental problems.
It is a key driver of environmental change and at present, the global livestock sector is one of the topmost significant contributors to world economic growth with countries like China and India leading the market with a continuous rise in the contribution of livestock to their economic growth.
Therefore, Livestock farming is and remain a vital part of human economic growth. Its importance spams across economic leverage with man as the greatest contributor and benefactor. What are the Importance and Benefits of Livestock production?
Importance of livestock farming
- Livestock farming is a great source of employment: Unemployment is a huge challenge especially among developing countries. Engaging in livestock farming can help these countries and even developed nations bridge the unemployment gap, engage the unemployed and create wealth.
- Great source of Food: From the olden time, livestock has served as a great source of food products for man and his environment, meat, milk, and other food materials commonly used in the house are all products of livestock.
- Livestock contributes not just a wellspring of great food that improves wholesome status yet, also, extra assets like excrement for compost, on-ranch power, and other side-effects, and, what’s more, give monetary broadening and hazard dissemination.
- They also play key farming roles: With livestock such as horse and donkeys, one can plough or harrow a large hectare of land within a short period.
- Livestock play key tourism role: Most farm animals are lovely and are used for tourism purposes.
- Livestock production provides sustainable means of economic development: Sustainability is a major challenge in income generation, livestock production has proved over time to be a sustainable means of income generation, it has been from generation to generation while maintaining an increase in value.
- Industrial use: Products from livestock farming are daily used for industrial purposes, they contribute immensely to industrial growth by serving as raw material for major production output.
- Livestock is basic to a feasible rural framework and particularly for smallholders who involve a large portion of the world’s ranchers, they are a good bet for sustainable farming
Even though livestock farming has been an aged means of economic growth, there exist different levels of engagement among livestock farmers.
The existing discrepancy could be attributed to factors such as location, income and desire of the farmer.
Also, some farmers do not have the luxury of support from the authorities, there is little or no viable policies that support livestock production in many developing countries of the world.
Levels of livestock farming
A farmer can engage in livestock farming at different levels, there are the small scale and large-scale levels of livestock farming.
Small scale Livestock production
Small scale livestock farming is defined as a type of livestock farming where the farmers engage in the production of a few or a limited number of animals.
Here, the farmer’s ability to produce large number of livestock is limited, limitations can be caused by lack of fund, lack of support, lack or limited land space, farmers desire or choice, place, conditions of an area and many others
Though small-scale livestock production may seem to not be the solution to the growing demand of livestock because According to the USDA, a small-scale farm produces between 1000$-250000$ each year in agricultural products, it is advantageous in incorporating the low earners and providing space for engagement in livestock farming
Large Scale Livestock farming
In large scale Livestock farming, the farmer breeds a large number of animals, large scale livestock farming is known for its higher level of input in terms of capital and labour. It is more modern and is mostly found among urban farmers.
Large scale livestock farming requires huge capital and machines for ease of production. Its higher output nature, less human strength to execute livestock management, modern nature makes it better for farmers.
Not forgetting that, it is better for economic growth and income generation.
Livestock farming is of different types whichever type adopted by a farmer, the management of the livestock is important, the productivity level of your livestock rest on the quality of management, this is important to note as a livestock farmer.
One aspect of livestock production that is of great importance is livestock management, livestock management refers to the farmer’s day to day activities on the farm that is targeted at raising healthy and productive farm animals.
It starts from proper planning of the farm, provision of good housing for the livestock, water, favorable climatic condition, good knowledge of the breed concerning market demand, proper pest and disease control, proper feeding and sanitation, Medicare and good marketing.
There are different types of system used in managing livestock
Types of livestock farming system
Intensive Livestock Farming
Intensive livestock farming is a type of livestock farming system in which the animals are kept in an enclosed area and are provided with their daily needs such as food and water.
The owner controls the activities of the animals, they can be allowed to leave their house from time to time but not into the pasture land for grazing, the owner also determines what the animals feed on, cleans the house and secures the animals by ensuring that they are hidden from external attack by predators.
This system is capital intensive and requires the attention of the farmer more than the other systems.
Semi-intensive Livestock Farming
In the Semi-intensive Livestock Farming system, the animals are housed and food provided for them but they are often allowed to move around in search of pasture in an enclosed area in the farm.
This system is an intermediary of an intensive and extensive system and can be practised by both small-scale farmers and large-scale farmers. It requires moderate capital and space as well.
Extensive Livestock Farming
This is a system of livestock farming where the animals are allowed to move around the farm, graze freely without restrictions, the farmer’s control over the activities of the animals is limited. The farmer ensures that there is pasture around the farm for the livestock. This is the oldest system of rearing farm animals.
Nomadic Livestock Farming system
This system of livestock farming is characterized by grazing on a massive expanse of land, the animals are moved from a place to another in search of pasture.
This system is mostly found among farmers who stay in arid regions, they move from their regions to another in their quest to provide better grazing land for their animals.
Problems of livestock farming
There is a wide range of problems facing the livestock production industry, they exist in all forms and contribute adversely to the growth of livestock production.
They include but not limited to the following.
This is one of the most critical problems facing livestock farming, especially in developing countries.
Money is one of the most crucial factors of production known to man. A farmer needs money to set up his farm and manage the same. The financial constraint has led to slow growth in animal production.
Low-income earners dominant in the livestock farming industry and therefore find it hard to meet up with the demand of livestock production in terms of management and sustainability.
Lack of support
Not only do livestock farmers lack financial support in terms of loans and grants, but they also lack communal support, in most cases, they pay heavily to acquire lands and other needed equipment for productive livestock farming.
This has been a great setback in the growth of livestock farming, especially in developing countries.
From early time, disease is an unavoidable challenge in livestock farming, it threatens not only the growth of animals but the growth of livestock production in general. Animals and their products are under constant disease attack and therefore, productivity is endangered.
High cost of animal feeds
Profit is the major aim of any business, agriculture itself is business, and in livestock farming, nutrition is a major determinant of the productivity of the animals.
Unfortunately, animal feeds are not readily available and even when they are, they are expensive, this is a big challenge for livestock farmers because they need to obtain their animals feeds at a low price to make profit from sales when the animals mature.
Lack of storage facilities
Storage is a crucial part of livestock production, unfortunately, in most developing countries, storage facilities are far-fetched. Farmers are often on the bad end side of poor storage facilities; livestock products are perishable and therefore do not survive over a long period without proper storage. This is a major setback in the growth of livestock farming in most developing countries.
brown and white goats on grazing land in the summer
Dependency on manpower
Agriculture generally has gone beyond using man as a source of energy, machines are used in the developed world for almost all production activities. With a larger percentage of livestock farmers as low-income earners who can hardly afford the machines needed to execute production activities, they depend on manpower. This slows the rate of production.
Lack of infrastructural development
Inadequacy of infrastructure for livestock farming has caused a huge gap in production, there is a general lack of mechanized animal farming in most developing countries especially in Africa.
The use of machines promotes production activities, quality of products and reduces the rate of time consumption, unfortunately, these needed machines are not always available to farmers in developing countries.
Education level of farmers
In Africa for instance, a larger number of livestock farmers are uneducated or not properly educated, this makes it hard for farmers to understand new ideas, methods or system.
There is already a huge gap in information (new ideas and innovations) circulation but even in cases that the information gets to the farmers, they lack the required technical know-how to execute the ideas.
There are several other challenges facing livestock farming that has reduced the growth of animal farming in general.
Solutions to the challenges of livestock farming
There are many ways livestock farming problems can be tackled and productivity improved.
Problems of livestock farming can be solved through
- Provision of support to farmers especially farmers in the rural areas.
- Improved extension services
- Creation of chains of a network between the authority and the farmers.
- Farmer’s education
- Livestock production infrastructural development
- The improved road network in rural areas
- Proper planning and implementation
These and a host of others will immensely contribute positively to the growth of livestock farming if implemented.
Tips to succeed in livestock farming
Even with the vast gap in the growth of livestock farming to meeting the market demand, there are ways livestock farmers can maximize the limited resources to improve production.
- As a farmer, understanding the livestock market demand is important, study the market to find out the type of livestock it favours. It will help you make the right choice in product selection.
- Combining different systems of farming can be of help to save cost and increase output.
- Be natural in managing your livestock.
- Build a suitable house for your livestock; ensure that there is enough space for the animals, virtually, every domesticable animal enjoys space.
- Maintain proper management.
- Maintain clean and healthy livestock.
- Build a proper marketing strategy; marketing isn’t much of a problem in livestock farming but having a well-structured marketing strategy is important especially in large-scale farming.
Conclusion of livestock farming
Livestock farming is a major contributor to world economic growth, China, India and a host of other countries have immensely benefited from their wonderful livestock farming structure.
Other developing countries can learn from this, improve livestock farming to maximize the potential of livestock and improve output.