6 Types of Farm Animals and Its Characteristic


6 Types of Farm Animals and Its Characteristic

Farm animals are animals that are raised on farms for their meat, dairy products or to help out the farmers. Farm animals are animals that are reared by man for different purposes such as food supply, income generation, clothing materials, etc. Examples include goats, sheep, rabbits, poultry, cattle, pigs, fish, snails, etc.

What are Farm Animals?

Farm animals are animals raised or kept primarily for consumption, to generate income and to help with some farm operations.

Another name for them is Livestock. The difference between farm animals and wild animals is that farm animals live among men while wild animals live in the wild, forest, jungle, etc.


6 Types of Farm Animals

The following are the 6 main types of farm animals:

1. Work animals

2. Dairy animals

3. Guard animals

4. Poultry

5. Pets

6. Aquatic animals


1. Work animals

These are animals that are used for work on the farm.

They are used for carrying loads, ploughing, harrowing and ridging e.g cattle, Sokoto Gudali, White Fulani, (in forms of bull and bullock). Such animals are called draught animals. The normal output of a working bull is about 500W compared to that of a man which about 75W.

Work animals are also used for transportation and carrying of load e.g. horses, camels and donkeys. Such animals are referred to as beasts of burden. They have the ability to survive or travel long distance without water.

Characteristics of Work Animals

The following are the characteristics of work animals:

· They are well built with good body conformation.

· They can survive or travel long distance without water.

· They are rugged and have very great strength.

· They have strong hind limbs.

· They are docile and tolerant.

2. Dairy animals

World milk production is almost entirely derived from cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep and camels. Other less common milk animals are yaks, horses, reindeers and donkeys. The presence and importance of each species varies significantly among regions and countries.

The key elements that determine the dairy species kept are feed, water and climate.

Other factors that may influence the presence of a dairy species are market demand, dietary traditions and the socio-economic characteristics of individual households (e.g., poorer families tend to rely more on small ruminants).

Although cattle are kept in a wide range of environments, other dairy species make dairying possible in adverse environments that often cannot support any other type of agricultural production. Sheep allow milk production in semi-arid regions around the Mediterranean, goats in regions with poor soils in Africa, horses in the steppes of Central Asia, camels in arid lands, buffaloes in wet tropical regions, and yaks in high mountainous areas such as the Tibetan Plateau.

In developing countries, milk producing animals are often raised in subsistence and smallholder systems. These animals are usually multi-purpose and grow and produce under difficult conditions, such as low inputs, minimum management and harsh environments. They are well adapted to local conditions, but have low genetic potential for milk production.

Characteristics of Dairy animals

This indicates that a cow shows evidence of being a good producer. A cow with good dairy character is one who is sharp, particularly at the shoulders and withers, and one who shows no excess flesh or fat.

A long, lean neck showing refinement and not coarseness is desirable.

Thickness at the shoulders, neck, withers or thighs indicates a lack of dairy character. 


3. Guard Animals

A variety of guard animals are used all around the world to protect livestock from predators. In Australia, guard dogs (such as maremmas), llamas and alpacas, or donkeys are sometimes used with varying degrees of success. Using guard animals is designed to prevent livestock attacks, but they might not exclude wild dogs from a given area.

Livestock guardian dogs are medium to large sized dogs that are kept with livestock to protect them from predators.

They are mainly used to protect sheep, goats and poultry, but they can work with any type of livestock; for example, with cattle, horses, rabbits, deer, emu or ostriches. These dogs live permanently with ‘their’ stock, and regard them as their social companions, protecting them from anything that they see as a threat.

Guard animals are mainly used to protect against dingoes, feral dogs and foxes, but also against birds of prey, cats, goannas, crows, quolls and Tasmanian devils.

Characteristics of Guard Animals

· Territorial – By nature, an excellent guard dog must be possessive of its territory.

· Physically active – A guard dog must be playful and not indolent.

· Loyalty – This is one trait that a good guard dog must possess. The dog must show devotion to its family (which includes other pets as well) and must do anything to protect them. 

· Aggression – A good guard dog must possess controlled aggression and attack only when they feel it is necessary.

· Strong – Guards dogs should be strong, muscular, and have a powerful bite and bark.

· Stable temperament – When choosing a puppy for a future guard dog, make sure it does not display nervousness, aversion to human touch or presence, fear, lack of playfulness and getting easily provoked.


4. Poultry

Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for their eggs, their meat or their feathers. These birds are most typically members of the superorder Galloanserae (fowl), especially the order Galliformes which includes chickens, quails, and turkeys).

The term also includes birds that are killed for their meat, such as the young of pigeons but does not include similar wild birds hunted for sport or food and known as game.

The recent genomic study involving the four extant Jungle fowl species reveal that the domestication of chicken, the most populous poultry species, occurred around 8,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. Although this was believed to have occurred later around 5,400 years ago in Southeast Asia.

This may have originally been as a result of people hatching and rearing young birds from eggs collected from the wild, but later involved keeping the birds permanently in captivity.

Domesticated chickens may have been used for cockfighting at first and quail kept for their songs, but soon it was realized how useful it was having a captive-bred source of food. Selective breeding for fast growth, egg-laying ability, conformation, plumage and docility took place over the centuries, and modern breeds often look very different from their wild ancestors.

Although some birds are still kept in small flocks in extensive systems, most birds available in the market today are reared in intensive commercial enterprises.

Characteristics of Poultry 

Poultry are social, inquisitive animals with a strong territorial instinct. They put themselves to bed in the same spot every night and enjoy being with other birds. 

They should never be kept alone and form a clear pecking order or hierarchy within their group.

For this reason new birds should be introduced with care, adding two at a time to prevent a new single hen being picked on. Hens will often fight with one another until the pecking order is sorted out.

Poultry like to scratch and dig in the dirt, forming dust baths to lie in and foraging for grubs and other insects.

It is important to address these behavioural needs when housing poultry and making sure they have a suitable environment in which they can scratch in the dirt and dust bath. For this reason, poultry thrive in a free ranging system where they have plenty of space to roam around and flap their wings, access to fresh air, vegetation, dirt and grubs and can express their natural behaviours.

Poultry develop their own personal space referred to as their flight zone. A group of birds have a collective flight zone depicted by their individual characteristics, breed, age, environment and previous handling experiences. If a bird’s flight zone is penetrated, the birds move away to regain a more comfortable distance from the intruder.

Poultry raised in a pen with close contact to people will have a smaller flight zone and are calmer when being handled as opposed to birds raised in a free ranging area with minimal contact with people. 

It is common for poultry that have been hand raised to be very tame and comfortable being picked up, groomed and patted.

Due to poultry most commonly being housed in pens, the need for them to be herded is minimal, making their flight zone not as influential as other farm animals. 

The flight zone does become influential when poultry need to be caught for husbandry procedures, showing, moving them and locking them into smaller pens or cages.

Poultry kept in a free ranging setup may also have to be herded into smaller enclosures at night for extra protection or for easy catching.

5. Pets

Pet, any animal kept by human beings as a source of companionship and pleasure.

While a pet is generally kept for the pleasure that it can give to its owner, often, especially with horses, dogs, and cats, as well as with some other domesticated animals, this pleasure appears to be mutual.

Thus, pet keeping can be described as a symbiotic relationship, one that benefits both animals and human beings. 

As the keeping of pets has been practiced from prehistoric times to the present and as pets are found in nearly every culture and society, pet keeping apparently satisfies a deep, universal human need.

The history of pets is intertwined with the process of animal domestication, and it is likely that the dog, as the first domesticated species, was also the first pet. Perhaps the initial steps toward domestication were taken largely through the widespread human practice of making pets of captured young wild animals.

Eventually, a working relationship developed between the dogs and their human captors. The dog was swifter, had stronger jaws, and was better at tracking prey; therefore, it could be of great use in hunting and guarding duties.

From human beings, on the other hand, the dogs were assured of a constant supply of food as well as warmth from the fire. There is indirect evidence that the dog may have been domesticated and kept as a pet since Paleolithic times, as can be surmised from the paintings and carvings that archaeologists have found in ancient campsites and tombs.

In Mesopotamia, dogs that look remarkably like the present-day mastiff were shown participating in a lion hunt. Domestic pets were often depicted in the scenes of family life in ancient Egypt; hunting dogs of the greyhound or saluki type accompany their master to the chase, and lap dogs frequently sit under the chair of their master or mistress.

Characteristics of Pets

Although it may look quite ferocious, this breed has a docile temperament and enjoys children. It is active and learns easily. However, it cannot withstand strenuous exercise as its nose does not allow for rapid breathing.


· Courageous

· Intelligent

· Good tempered

· Loyal guard dog


6. Aquatic animals

Organisms that live in water and fully depend on water for nutrition are known as aquatic animals. Water contains dissolved oxygen that is used by these animals in the respiration process. Aquatic animals depend on water and cannot survive on land.

Aquatic animals live in water and adapt to their surroundings in order to survive. Adaptation increases the chances of an organism's survival. In various fish, the swim bladder is an air-filled pouch beneath the vertebral column that aids in floating. 

Ectothermic organisms are those that modify their body temperature in response to variations in water temperature. Blubber aids in the thermal regulation of aquatic species.

Plankton, nekton, and benthos are types of aquatic animals. The aquatic life zone is dominated by plankton, with feeble swimming and free swimming. Plankton refers to microscopic organisms that swim and float in ocean waters. Fish, turtles, and whales are examples of nekton, which are strong swimming organisms. Benthoses are underside decomposers that degrade organic substances found in the dead bodies and waste of aquatic species such as barnacles, oysters, and lobsters.

Characteristics of Aquatic animals

The following are characteristics of Aquatic animals:

· The majority of their species live in water, although some do live on land as well.

· They have paired and unpaired fins that aid in swimming.

· Their limbs are either webbed or transformed into paddles for swimming.

· Their bones are light and spongy, and their body structure is streamlined.

·  A thin snout is formed by modifying the skull.

· The neck is slimmer, and the external ears have vanished

Read: Propagation of Crops- All You Need to Know

 General Characteristics of Farm Animals

Some of the qualities or characteristics of farm animals are as follows:

· Farm animals thrive or do well in confinements or domestic environments. Farm animals are often raised or kept in a confined or fenced environment. Despite this, they still do and grow well in this particular area or environment. However, the place (farm) must be conducive and adequate feed and water must be provided always.

· They have accustomed to sharing homes with humans and other fellow farm animals. This is one of the reasons they are also called domestic animals.

· They coexist quite peacefully with both animals of the same species and different species.

· They are calm and friendly in nature and behavior except they are agitated or threatened or sense a threat

· They pass the domestic traits to their young or offspring. Thousands of years ago, these animals lived in the wild before they were captured by humans. After many years of living with humans, they naturally lose the traits of the wild.

· They are generally diurnal animals (awake and more active during the day) except for a few that are both diurnal and nocturnal (awake and more active at night).

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