What is Animal husbandry? - Meaning, Origin, Types and Importance


What is Animal husbandry? - Meaning, Origin, Types and Importance

Animal husbandry refers to livestock rising and selective breeding. It is the management and care of animals in which the genetic qualities and behavior of animals are further developed for profit. A large number of farmers depend upon animal husbandry for their livelihood.

Animals provide us with a variety of food products which have high nutritional values. Therefore, they require a lot of care and attention.

Animals are bred commercially in order to meet the high demand for food. Dairy products from animals like cows, buffaloes, goats, are rich sources of protein. These animals are called milch animals as they provide us with milk. Another set of animals that provide nutrient-rich food are hen, ducks, goose, etc. They provide us with eggs, which again are rich sources of protein.

Animals like chicken, duck, ox, goat, pigs, etc. are bred for meat. Other than these domestic animals we have other sources of nutrients as well, they are marine animals. The seafood we eat has very high nutrient values. They are sources of a variety of nutrients like fat, proteins, vitamins and minerals. 

The care, breeding, management, etc of animals are particularly monitored under the department of animal husbandry. Animal husbandry is a large scale business.

The animals are bred, cared, reared and sheltered in a farm or region, which are specially built for them. Animal husbandry involves poultry, milk-farms, apiculture (bee agriculture), aquaculture, etc.


Animal husbandry - Definition and Meaning

Animal husbandry is the science or a branch of agriculture that is concerned with the production, taking care of, and breeding of farm animals. Humans are dependent on both plants and animals for food; we raise animals for different food items including eggs, milk and meat, and other products like fiber, wool, leather, etc. We deal with a branch of agriculture to provide day-to-day care, selective breeding, and thus raising livestock (of a variety of domestic animals) and the process is known as animal husbandry.


Origin of Animal Husbandry - World History

It has a long history when animals were initially domesticated during the Neolithic revolution.

Earlier, cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs were raised on farms on a low scale. After the 18th century, agriculturalists rapidly took animal husbandry to the next level and yielded more meat, wool, and milk day by day.

A wide variety of species like horses, rabbits, guinea pud, and water buffalo were also used in some parts of the world.

Aquaculture of molluscs, crustaceans, and fish was on the rise and insect farming was also adopted. Contemporary methods to define animal husbandry depend on the type of land available and production systems adapted to these.

Intensive animal farming that involves maximum production with minimum cost has been adopted by the modern methods that make available thousands of chickens and high-density feedlots. This helps in increasing the yield per area of land with an investment of a good amount of money and labor.

Modern methods involve intensive animal farming which seeks maximum production at minimum costs. This has led to exploitation and growing vulnerability in the existing livestock resources.


4 Major Types of Animal Husbandry

There are four major types of animal husbandry practiced in the world today:

1. Dairy Farming

2. Poultry Farming

3. Aquatic Farming (Pisciculture)

4. Bee Farming (Apiculture)


1. Dairy Farming

Dairy farming is the agricultural technique concerned with the long term production of milk, which is then processed to obtain dairy products such as curd, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, etc. It involves the management of dairy animals such as cows, buffaloes, sheep, goat, etc.

The animals are taken care of against diseases and are inspected regularly by veterinary doctors.

A healthy animal is physically, mentally and socially sound. These animals are milked by hand or by machines. The milk is preserved and converted into dairy products industrially, which are then used for commercial purposes.

2. Poultry Farming

Poultry farming is concerned with raising and breeding of birds for commercial purposes. Birds like ducks, chickens, geese, pigeons, turkeys, etc. are domesticated for eggs and meat. It is very important to take care of the animals and maintain them in a disease-free environment to obtain healthy food from them. The eggs and meat are a rich source of protein.

Sanitation and hygienic conditions need to be maintained. The faces of birds are used as manure to improve soil fertility. Poultry farming provides employment to a large number of people and helps in improving the economy of the farmers.

3. Aquatic Farming (Pisciculture)

Fish farming is the process of raising fish in closed tanks or ponds for commercial purposes. There is an increasing demand for fish and fish protein. Fish species such as salmon, catfish, cod, and tilapia are raised in fish farms.

Fish farming or pisciculture is of two types:

  •      Extensive aquaculture, based on the local photosynthetic production
  •      Intensive aquaculture, based on the external food supply given to fishes.

4. Bee Farming (Apiculture)

Apiculture refers to the bee farming practice and the word comes from the Latin word- ‘apis’ which means bee. So, it involves taking care and management of honey bees to produce honey and the wax. Honey possesses wonderful healing properties and can reduce ulcers, regulate blood sugar, lessen digestive problems, treat coughs, and sore throats.

Apiculture ensures a safe place for the bees to work and live. Bees are essential for us too as these are engaged in pollination for our food sources. Having bee farming in place, it provides an environment for studying their habitat and behavior.

Importance of Animal Husbandry

Animal rearing is important for humans as they attain a wide range of food products having high nutrient values. They meet the commercial requirements of high demand for food such as dairy needs from cows, goats, and buffaloes.

They are called milch animals as they provide us milk which is full of protein and other vitamins and minerals.

The importance of animal husbandry further extends to another set of animals that are important to humans for eggs and meat such as hens, ducks, goose, goat, fish, etc.

They are also bred for meat which is rich in protein, iron, fats, vitamin B12 and Zinc. 

All of these nutrients are essential to enhance metabolic rate, promote fullness, and reduce hunger. 

Marine animals like fish are also believed to keep a person happier and healthier as these have Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and vitamin D.

Animal husbandry takes care of the management and breeding of animals and is a large scale business. A farm or a specific region is built for providing shelter, food, and undertaking culturing processes.

It also involves apiculture i.e. bee agriculture and aquaculture i.e. marine animals culturing.


Role of Animal Husbandry in Agriculture

The role of animal husbandry in human welfare can be described as follows:

1. Dairy products producing animals like cows, sheep, and goats are the major sources of milk and milk products including butter, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.

2. Many animals including chicken, goat, duck, pigs, and buffaloes are used for their meat because of their highly nutritious value.

3. Livestock is used to control the growth of weeds on agricultural land as the dry shrubs that are prone to fire are eaten up by various animals. This reduces the risk and harm that can be faced with unprecedented situations. So, it is important for land management.

4. Wool and leather are the fibre by-products from animals like sheep and camels. When these animals are reared in a vast number, the products can be obtain largely too.

5. The importance of animal husbandry also lies in the fact that the excreta, bones, and blood of animals can be used as manure or fertilizers via composting. These can be spread on fields to enhance crop yield.

6. Animals are helpful for ploughing fields, military functions, and transporting goods from one place to another. Example: Horse, yak, and donkey.


Role of Animal Husbandry in Human Welfare

Animal husbandry is beneficial to human beings in the following ways:

1. Dairy Products: Animals such as cows, goats, sheep, etc. are the major source of milk and milk products such as yoghurt, cheese, butter, etc.

2. Meat:  Animals such as cows, buffaloes, pigs, and goats are reared for their meat. Their meat is a rich source of dietary protein.

3. Land Management: The livestock is sometimes grazed to control the growth of weeds on agricultural land. The dry shrubs in the areas that are prone to wildfire are eaten by goat and sheep, which reduces the risk of fire.

4. Fibre:  Animals also produce fibres or textiles such as wool and leather. For eg, sheep are reared for wool whereas leather can be obtained from camel.

5. Manure: The excreta, blood and bones of animals are used as manure. The manure is spread on the fields to increase the crop yields and crop production. It is also used as fuel for fires and as plaster for walls and floor.

6. Labour: Animals are a source of non-human labour. They are used for ploughing fields, transporting goods and military functions. For a E.g., horses, yaks and donkeys are used for such purposes.


Advantages of Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry has the following advantages:

1. Animal husbandry helps in the proper management of animals by providing proper food, shelter and protection against diseases to domestic animals.

2. It provides employment to a large number of farmers and thereby increases their living standards.

3. It helps in developing high yielding breeds of animals by cross breeding. This increases the production of various food products such as milk, eggs, meat, etc.

4. It involves the proper disposal of animal waste and promotes a healthy environment.

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