Animal husbandry is an important branch in agriculture that deals with the rearing of animals for obtaining useful products from them, products that are commercially useful to the human society.
Animals that are reared maintained and taken care of in animal husbandry are domestic animals like cows, buffaloes, sheep, cattle, pig, goat etc.
Scientific management principles have to be strictly followed in animal husbandry to maintain high standards of good quality farm production.
Enhanced production of animal products that bring economic value to man is the main concern behind this farming practice.
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Livestock Rearing and Management
Cattle animals like cows, buffaloes and sheep are together kept in farm areas where they are fed, raised, taken care of and also bred by proper breeding techniques, the domestication of such farm animals is referred to as livestock.
From ancient times, animals were domesticated in villages for obtaining a range of products from them, such as milk, wool, chicken, meat production, eggs, honey, fishes etc.
All these products proved to be useful to man, both commercially as well as an earning means for his livelihood.
As civilizations evolved and became technologically sound, new methodologies involving scientific researches and practices came into force, carrying the old practices and modifying them suitably to meet increasing demands of the economy.
Farmers involved in livestock rearing include traditional practices with modern techniques to receive good yields of food products.
The management of livestock mainly deals with cleanliness of the farm areas, hygienic grounds and sanitization, timely vaccination of livestock and measures to keep infections at bay and control diseases.
Proper disposal of wastes from farm areas is also a major area of concern and should be properly addressed.
Workers employed in fields where livestock is managed should have good knowledge of handling farms and livestock operations.
They should be able to oversee proper feeding and caring of animals.
It is usually a large scale business and involves maintaining high quality of standards in farming while meeting the demands of high yields in production as well as maintaining disease resistant breeds.
Scientific practices like providing good shelters for the livestock and ensuring sufficient ventilation, clean and hygienic sheds with proper waste removal systems hold key to managing livestock efficiently.
Specific needs of Cattle Farming
Cattle farming involves two types of animal rearing, firstly, the ones that are involved in food production and secondly, the rest that are involved for purposes of labour.
The first category involves animals like cows, buffaloes, goats etc for production of milk. Some of the well known brands of cows in India are Red Sindhi and Gir.
Foreign brands like Jersey and Holstein- Friesian are known to produce high yields and are very popular internationally.
The second categories of animals are made use of in agricultural fields to assist humans in ploughing farm lands and irrigating them.
To achieve high yields in production, the farm managers need to concentrate on the food that is fed to the cattle on a daily basis.
Supplying food that is rich in protein and making provisions for fresh drinking water keep the cattle healthy.
Supplying nutrient rich fodder together with the right balance of nutrition keeps the cattle strong and increases the production rates too.
Viral and bacterial infections affect livestock many a times and they can prove deadly at times.
The chances of diseases spreading from one farm animal to the other also cannot be ruled out and hence proper and timely vaccinations have to be carefully given under the supervision of the cattle manager.
Different types of Livestock Farming
Poultry farming is another type of animal husbandry practice which involves the raising of fowls for production of eggs, meat, chicken etc. Broilers are mainly used for chicken and meat supplies while fowls supply eggs.
Animal breeding is a practice followed under livestock rearing, where 2 desirable breeds with desirable characters are crossed to get a resulting breed with desirable traits.
This resulting breed is raised to have high yield providing qualities, together with tough disease resistant traits.
In poultry farming, such occurrences of cross breeding are common, in that they provide new varieties with new desirable traits.
Temperature maintenance is a key factor in poultry farming together with keeping infectious pests at bay.
Fishing is a very big business in India and drives the economy with a large share in production.
Fish provides high sources of proteins to man and the commercial farming of fishes are scientifically termed ‘aqua culture’. Rohu and catla are popular fishes in India.
Fishes are collected from fresh water pools, ponds, canals and marine regions as well. The collection of shrimps and prawns also hold key economic value as much as the monetary value from fish farming.
The ministry of fisheries is responsible for governing and setting up guidelines for aqua culture production at the national level.
This is one field which has grown to be commercially viable, making it marketable for fish farmers to expand their fishing activities.
Bee keeping or apiculture forms another important part of animal husbandry where honey bee colonies are maintained in hives to extract honey from them.
This practice makes use of many important types of equipment to extract honey starting from uncapping knives, frames, wooden chambers and covers.
Persons involved in the extraction procedures are advised to wear protective gear like gloves, veils and nets to protect themselves from the swarming bees.
This activity should be well planned, supervised and guided by an expert only. Honey is the main product obtained from apiculture and its known to provide nutritional qualities to man after right consumption.
Livestock rearing and poultry farming, together with dairy farming provide opportunities for small scale farmers as well as medium level workers in rural backgrounds.
Opportunities for self employment and also contribution of women workers in dairy farming indicate socio- economic importance of these activities.
As against drought conditions that affect agricultural land production mainly depending on rains for their main source of livelihood, animal husbandry provides better employable conditions to the rural folks.
Education and awareness of rural population towards scientifically handling and managing these activities is a must in today’s globalized economy.
The need of the hour is to channelize and promote awareness programs among the youth to take the best practices from the traditional, age-old methods already in place and transform their according to the modern day needs.
This helps increase yield and production per holding of livestock and decreases exclusive farm dependence of farmers.
Education regarding feeding of quality and nutritious fodder to cattle is another requirement for developing good breed cattle.
Increasing awareness regarding timely vaccinations to cattle and pest control measures to keep infections at bay can lead to optimal monetary gain in the long run.
Department of Animal Husbandry
The department of animal husbandry is a government body overlooking matters in policy making, and execution of livestock farming.
Special schemes and initiatives are launched by the government for the preservation and protection of livestock holding and to increase production rates by strengthening support to individual states.
Matters pertaining to dairy farming, fishing, improvement of stocks for livestock and cattle rearing are some of the activities pertaining to this body of government.
Creating awareness through health programs for vaccinating livestock are provided at reduced rates for the benefits of farm workers.
Improving infrastructure and methods of farm produce and inducing scientific practices at the grassroots levels are some of the initiatives undertaken by the government to improve farm produce.
Providing farm workers with channels to market their farm produce and gain significant access to sell their products help in socio-economic development.
Since majority of these activities are connected with rural backgrounds, health concerns of both the livestock and the farm workers rearing these cattle are a big matter of concern to the government.
Providing good infrastructure methods for farming, in a hygienic and sterile environment helps maintain good standards of health and well – being.
Attaching importance to cleanliness and educating rural youth about the importance of adopting scientific practices as against pure traditional methods go a long way in creating secure employment opportunities in this field.
Government has also drawn schemes to maintain availability of fresh water supplies in case of aqua culture and has adopted technological advances in case of preserving and marinating fishes.
A separate unit to hear grievances of farm workers and provide them suitable advices and suggestions are various measures undertaken by the government.
Public grievance meets are held at timely intervals to provide support to workers involved in these activities.