6 Major Problems Confronting Livestock Production and Strategies for Advancing Animal Production in Nigeria


6 Major Problems Confronting Livestock Production and Strategies for Advancing Animal Production in Nigeria

Animal production is an aspect of agricultural production. Agriculture is simply defined as the art and science of crop, animal and fibre production for human consumption. 

As a branch of agriculture, animal production deals with production of domesticated animals other than pets and game animals.

Major constraints faced in arid and semiarid regions include feed and fodder scarcity and lack of good quality breeding stock especially in the existing small ruminant production system.

In this article we will state numerous constraints confront the Nigerian livestock industry and impede its growth and development.


6 Major Problems Confronting Livestock Production

6 Major Problems Confronting Livestock Production and Strategies for Advancing Animal Production in Nigeria

Some of the most limiting factors are listed and discussed as follow:

1. Nutrition and Feed Supplies

The provision of feed that is adequate both in quality and quantity and accessible to animals all year round is the most outstanding problem of livestock production in Nigeria. The natural range resources that form the primary source of nutrients have been observed to rapidly increase in nutritive value at the onset of rains and decline shortly thereafter.

The state of poor nutritive feed quality often last longer during the year than the period of forage abundance and high nutritive quality. Supplementation with crop residues from cropped farmlands scarcely meets the requirements for animal growth.

The unavailability of grazing feedstuff in the year round is aggravated by the widespread bushfire and imbalance between the stocking rate and carrying capacity of the range.

The consequence of overstocking is simply high incidence of erosion and a reduction in the carrying capacity of vast land area with potential for high cattle production as in the Jos and Mambilla Plateaux, Sahel and Sudan ecological zones.

In event of acute shortage of range resources during the dry season and extending for a period of 2 years as in 1972-1974 considerable losses in live weight and number of stock usually result. The cyclical occurrence of feed deficit year in and year out impairs animal growth rate and reproductive performance while instigating movement of stock from one place to another with its numerous attendant problems including high susceptibility of animals to diseases and pest attack and often fatal clash between herders and farmers.

2. Inadequate Breeding Programme

Adoption of haphazard breeding programme in which indigenous cows are crossbred with bulls by natural or artificial insemination at one time and massive importation of exotic breeds into Nigeria at another, have failed to make any tangible impact.

The consequence of this is the proliferation of local breeds of cattle in their numbers not responding to improvement in quantitative traits. It is still not clear as to what means to categories local breeds of cattle as dairy or beef type. They all exhibit dual or triple-purpose traits, with productivity far below the average expected.

The reproductive performance of the cows which is an important consideration in breeding is hampered by long calving interval that is rooted in poor management and inadequate feeding. Worst still, Nigeria has no breeding policy programme for her livestock.

3. Disease and Pest Infestation

Due to tropical nature of the Nigerian environment, a number of important epizootic diseases of livestock easily thrive. In cattle, for example; rinderpest, contagious pleuropneumonia (CBPP), dermatophilosis foot and mouth disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and trypanosomiasis. These diseases are so virulent that they limit production, increase morbidity and cause widespread death of cattle. Recently, Nigeria was officially declared free of rinderpest infection.

However, other diseases of less epizootic nature are assuming increasing significance e.g. mastitis, brucellosis, dermatophilosis, heartwater etc.

Together these reduce productivity of the national herd even if they are less virulent. Although much progress has been made in the diagnosis and control of some of these diseases, the increasing populations of vector-pests that transmit the diseases constitute a major hazard and threat to farm animal production in Nigeria.

Infestation of tsetse fly alone for example, covers 75 per cent or 600,000 to 700,000 km2 of the entire country (FMA and GRNC, 1981) rendering areas with valuable feed resource nearly inhabitable for cattle.

Other pests of significant economic importance are enteric and helmintic parasites of coccidian emeria, flukes, roundworm and hookworms as well as ectoparasites like ticks, mange, mites and lice. They cause diarrhoea, loss of appetite, slow growth rate, unthrithfulness, damages to skin and most often debilitating mortality among stock leading to grave economic losses.

4. Land Ownership and Usage

Land tenure remains a major obstacle to livestock development, for herders have no secured individual accesses or rights to land. Communities and individuals who crop the land often lay claim to ownership of the land. A concession to carry out agricultural activities is merely given to settled pastoralists rather permanent land tenureship. Little or no opportunity is available for pastoralists to invest and develop the land for a full return of benefits and expansion.

5. Low Investment Potential

The slow rate of growth of the livestock industry in Nigeria denotes a long gestation period for investment to mature. This is contrary to quick return on investment desired by financial institutions like banks and investment houses. Livestock projects are scarcely attractive unlike services and trades that have tendency to return borrowed funds and interest more quickly due to longer period of growth required and the high uncertainty it is associated. Collaterals and guarantee of substantial value are not easily available for livestock producers to secure sufficient loans to improve production even in few instances where financial institution may be willing to do so.

6. Institutional Problems

Lack of genuine institutional support and political will to muster required efforts to improve livestock production cannot be divested from problems confronting the industry. In countries of India, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand etc, deliberate action-packed programmes are outlined and implemented with very strong extension component that enables experts work in collaboration with native producers to find solutions to the problems of production.

In Nigeria such plan programmes are tested within a limited area and frustrated by undue rivalry and competition for position, profession or financial benefits as well as poor implementation strategy. Policies are written and are never implemented before abrupt changes are introduced. As a result, Nigeria has as many policies as the number of commissions set up to assess part or all the teething problems militating against the growth of the livestock industry.

As if the poor attitude on the part of government is insufficient, the greater undoing comes from producers who are largely uneducated, conservative and highly mobile. Meaningful extension outreach can rarely accommodate producers who harbor hatred, suspicion or reject and are nonchalant towards innovations put in place for adoption.

Also read: Brief Historical Development and Roles of Animal Production in Nigeria

Top 7 Strategies for Advancing Animal Production in Nigeria

6 Major Problems Confronting Livestock Production and Strategies for Advancing Animal Production in Nigeria

Some strategies for purposeful development of the livestock industry in Nigeria are suggested as follows:

1. Change in value and attitude of livestock producers from the present consideration for number of stock as status symbol to more important objectives of higher productivity and socioeconomic benefits that are business oriented.

2. Careful selection of local breeding stock from breed and individual records.

3. National upgrading and breeding programmes involving exotic and local breeds, thereby mass producing the heterozygous offspring for production purposes.

4.  Careful exploration of various farming systems to ensure availability of feedstuff throughout the year and intensification agricultural production system.

5. Feed quality improvement through deliberate supplementation and range exploitation to meet daily requirements for various nutrients.

6. Exploitation of the biological abilities of the stock to derive maximally from the available feedstuff.

7. Establishment of a responsive and resilient animal health system that is capable of quick intervention, continuous and effective management of animal diseases and their predisposing agents and conditions.


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