Definition, Importance and Types of Livestock Farming

Definition, Importance and Types of Livestock Farming

Livestock farming, rising of animals for use or for pleasure. In this article, we will give the definition, Importance and Types of Livestock Farming. 

An efficient and prosperous animal agriculture historically has been the mark of a strong, well-developed nation. 

Such agriculture permits a nation to store large quantities of grains and other foodstuffs in concentrated form to be utilized to raise animals for human consumption during such emergencies as war or natural calamity.

Furthermore, meat has long been known for its high nutritive value, producing stronger, healthier people. Ruminant (cud-chewing) animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats convert large quantities of pasture forage, harvested roughage, or by-product feeds, as well as no protein nitrogen such as urea, into meat, milk, and wool.

Ruminants are therefore extremely important; more than 60 percent of the world’s farmland is in meadows and pasture.

Poultry also convert feed efficiently into protein; chickens, especially, are unexcelled in meat and egg production. Milk is one of the most complete and oldest known animal foods. Cows were milked as early as 9000 BCE.


Definition of Livestock Farming

Livestock farming is simply the management and breeding of domestic, livestock or farm animals for the purpose of obtaining their meat and products (milk, eggs, leather, etc.). 

It can also be described as the economic activity that involves raising domestic animals for human consumption and obtaining meat, milk, wool, fur, honey, among others.

Livestock farming is one of the oldest economic activities of man started by early men. It guarantees food supply, hides, skins, bones, milk and other animal products without going to the forest to hunt. 

Livestock farming includes the breeding of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, rabbits, snails, fishes, and honeybees.


What are the Importance and Benefits of Livestock Farming?

Definition, Importance and Types of Livestock Farming

Agriculture is one of the oldest sciences, and one of the most important. Without a firm understanding of agriculture, all humans would struggle to find enough food, shelter, and clothing to survive.

The main reason for maintaining our animal agricultural populations is to provide a nutritious and desirable form of food for human consumption.

Only about 11% of the world’s land area is suitable for production of foods that can be directly consumed by humans. About 75% of energy intake consumed by ruminants and 30% from nonruminants is from waste materials that cannot be consumed directly by the human population.

With world food production already inadequately able to provide balanced diets for people of the world, it is important that we continue to utilize livestock

1. Livestock farming is a vital activity in the development of humanity and continues to occupy a prominent place among the primary activities of the world economy.

2. It generates high-quality food products such as meat, egg, milk, cheese, etc.

3. Other local economic sectors advantage directly or indirectly from its activity: food processing industries, handicrafts, tourism and hospitality.

4. It is one of the few human productive economic activities that are truly sustainable.

5. It generates employment opportunities and serves as a source of income

6. It can also serve as a hobby for some people.

7. It can help a country to generate foreign exchange earnings through the export of livestock products. This will further strengthen the local currency value.

8. Bigger animals such as cattle, horse and donkeys can be used for some special farm operations such as ploughing, harrowing and even beasts of burden.

 Also read: Key Roles of Animal Production in Nigeria

The Importance of Livestock in the United States

The United States is the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products. Its agricultural products go to more than 120 countries.

In 2008, farm exports were valued at $115 billion. 

Farmers and ranchers of the United States represented less than 0.1% of the world’s population in 2003 and yet annually produce approximately 22% of the meat, 32% of the fluid milk, 29% of the eggs, and 41% of the poultry products of the world.

According to the 2007 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural census, the total value of agricultural products sold from farms in the United States was $297 billion, creating a 48% increase since 2002.

The value of the livestock and livestock products themselves that were sold in 2007 was $153 billion. The percentage of livestock products sold from farms in the United States constitutes 51.7% of the total market value of agricultural products sold in 2007.

Livestock producers also create income for the United States and stimulate the economy with the purchase of goods to raise livestock.

According to the USDA 2007 agriculture census, producers spent $241 billion on production expenses in 2007, an increase of 39% since 2002.

Of those production expenses, $49.1 billion was spent on feed, and $38 billion was spent on the purchase or lease of livestock.

Jobs created from agriculture should not be overlooked when evaluating the importance of agriculture to our economy.

Approximately one in every six jobs in private employment is related to agriculture. These statistics alone are the reason some economists believe that agriculture is the foundation of our economy.

Animal agriculture is used to stabilize farm incomes by providing other areas of income for farmers and ranchers. 

It also allows farmers and ranchers to save on shipping costs of bulky feeds by concentrating them into the form of meat through the use of livestock.

Clothing is supplied through agriculture with the production of wool, mohair, and cashmere. Wool markets have been gradually declining in United States for several years now because of the use of synthetic fibers, although there is still an economic market for the product. Leather used in shoes, belts, gloves, and clothes constitutes 5% to 10% of the market value of livestock animals.

By-products are any product produced by animals other than meat. These products contribute significantly to U.S. society. 

Examples of by-products include organs, fat, bones, and various glands. Examples of products made with by-products include candy, house insulation, gum, sandpaper, wallpaper, ice cream, fertilizers, canned meats, buttons, perfumes, glue, camera film, lanolin, gelatin desserts, marshmallows, dice, piano keys, toothbrushes, cosmetics, rug padding, waxes, soap lubricants, printing ink, candles, and upholstering materials for furniture.

By-products are also used as feeds for other animals. Another major use of by-products includes medications, such as insulin, cortisone, epinephrine, thrombin, rennet, heparin, and corticotrophin. Not only do livestock contribute to medications, but they also supply a research model for scientists to study human and animal health.

Livestock are also doing their part to “go green.” 

Sixty-four percent of the U.S. land mass is used for the production of livestock: 36% for grazing and 28% for production of hay and other forage crops and grain. Livestock help conserve soil and soil fertility in the land on which these livestock feeds are grown. 

Livestock manure is applied to these areas to replenish nutrients in the soil used by plants for growth.

Organic agriculture is becoming a huge part of U.S. agricultural production, and livestock help play a role in conservation of our natural resources.

The traditional use of livestock as a power source has come and gone in U.S. society. However, with continued research into more effective ways to produce power, scientists have discovered the use of methane gas, produced from fecal material, as a power source. 

Several large feedlots in the United States have built biogas plants. These plants utilize methane gas as a form of energy. Fuel for electricity, cooking, and heating needs of an average U.S. farm could be supplied by the manure from about 40 cows. 

The cost of energy contributes largely to the average cost of food supplied to grocery stores. This trend is extremely realistic in view of the recent increases in energy costs and jumps in grocery prices in recent history.

Recreation is another benefit that can be attributed to the use of livestock in the United States. There are an estimated 6.9 million horses in the United States, and their owners annually spend an estimated $8.5 billion for feed and tack. 

This fact not only contributes to their economic importance but also signifies the importance of horses as a recreational hobby. 

More people attend horse races annually than see minor or major league baseball games or attend automobile races. 

Horses are not the only animals used as a form of recreation. If you have ever visited a county or state fair, you have seen people enjoying the exhibition of livestock as well.

Types of Livestock Farming

Definition, Importance and Types of Livestock Farming

There are different types of livestock farming systems that are distinguished by the production processes that take place in each of them.

The different types of livestock farming systems are:

1. Intensive Livestock

2. Semi intensive Livestock

3. Extensive Livestock

4. Nomadic Livestock

5. Transhumant Livestock

6. Organic Livestock Farming

Let us explain in details


1. Intensive Livestock

Farming Intensive livestock farming is one in which the animals are housed with adequate temperatures, feed and health care necessary for the production of animals to be healthy and faster. In this system, the selection of breeds is made for different types of production. It is both capital and labour intensive.


2. Semi intensive Livestock

Farming Semi intensive livestock farming is one in which the animals are housed and fed, but are allowed to graze or move around the farm to scavenge within in an enclosed area within the farm area.


3. Extensive Livestock

Farming Extensive livestock farming is one that is carried out on large areas of land, such as meadows, pastures or mountains so that animals graze and take advantage of the natural resources of various areas. It is usually carried out with animals that are adapted to the type of field to which they are intended to take. This system promotes the conservation of the ecosystem.


4. Nomadic Livestock

Farming Nomadic livestock farming is characterized by the grazing of animals like cattle on a large expanse of land so that they have a natural diet. In this system, the animals are taken to different lands to eat various foods and resources. This type of livestock farming is known as nomadic or semi­nomadic. It is typical of people who live in arid areas where cultivation is difficult to carry out, as in some territories in Africa and Asia.


5. Transhumant Livestock

Farming Transhumant livestock farming is one in which the animals are moved to areas whose fields have food, depending on the season of the year. This livestock farming system is very advantageous because it increases the fertility of the soils thanks to the manure of the cattle. 

The animals feed on various grasses and vegetables and contribute to the dispersal of seeds, among others. At the moment, the transhumant cattle ranch is little practiced. However, it is still carried out in various areas of Africa.

6. Organic Livestock Farming

Organic farming is a livestock production system with the aim of obtaining the highest quality food without using synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc. 

In addition, animals need a large space and feed on natural products. Livestock account represents all types of animals like cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, etc. and they are raised mainly for meat, milk or wool production. Livestock farming is associated with the production of meat, milk and eggs from domesticated animals.

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