animal husbandry
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Animal husbandry is the branch of
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
concerned with
animal Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and go through an ontogenetic stage i ...
s that are raised for
meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted, farmed, and scavenged animals for meat since prehistoric times. The establishment of settlements in the Neolithic Revolution allowed the domestication of animals such as chick ...
,
fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a #Natural fibers, natural or Fiber#Artificial fibers, artificial substance that is significantly longer than it is wide. Fibers are often used in the manufacture of other materials. The stronge ...
,
milk Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals (including breastfeeding, breastfed human infants) before they are able to digestion, digest solid food. Immune fact ...
, or other products. It includes day-to-day care,
selective breeding Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to Selection (biology), selectively develop particular phenotypic traits (characteristics) by choosing which typically ...
, and the raising of
livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to provide labor and produce diversified products for consumption such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep an ...
. Husbandry has a long history, starting with the
Neolithic Revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunter-gatherer, hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and sedentism, ...
when animals were first
domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which humans assume a significant degree of control over the reproduction and care of another group of organisms to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that group. A ...
, from around 13,000 BC onwards, predating farming of the first crops. By the time of early civilisations such as
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
,
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
,
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
,
goat The goat or domestic goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of Caprinae, goat-antelope typically kept as livestock. It was domesticated from the wild goat (''C. aegagrus'') of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a membe ...
s, and
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus ''Sus (genus), Sus'', is an Omnivore, omnivorous, Domestication, domesticated, even-toed ungulate, even-toed, hoofed ma ...
s were being raised on farms. Major changes took place in the
Columbian exchange The Columbian exchange, also known as the Columbian interchange, was the widespread transfer of plants, animals, precious metals, commodities, culture, human populations, technology, diseases, and ideas between the New World (the Americas) in ...
, when Old World livestock were brought to the New World, and then in the
British Agricultural Revolution The British Agricultural Revolution, or Second Agricultural Revolution, was an unprecedented increase in agricultural production in Britain arising from increases in labour and land productivity between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. Agric ...
of the 18th century, when livestock breeds like the Dishley Longhorn cattle and Lincoln Longwool sheep were rapidly improved by agriculturalists, such as Robert Bakewell, to yield more meat, milk, and
wool Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep and other mammal, mammals, especially goat, goats, rabbit, rabbits, and camelid, camelids. The term may also refer to inorganic materials, such as mineral wool and glass wool, that have properties ...
. A wide range of other species, such as
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one of two Extant taxon, extant subspecies of wild horse, ''Equus fer ...
,
water buffalo The water buffalo (''Bubalus bubalis''), also called the domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo, is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North America, So ...
,
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a List of meat animals, meat and pack animal by Inca empire, Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are social animals and live with othe ...
,
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammals in the family (biology), family Leporidae (which also contains the hares) of the order (biology), order Lagomorpha (which also contains the pikas). ''Oryctolagus cuniculus'' i ...
, and
guinea pig The guinea pig or domestic guinea pig (''Cavia porcellus''), also known as the cavy or domestic cavy (), is a species of rodent belonging to the genus ''Cavia'' in the family Caviidae. Animal fancy, Breeders tend to use the word ''cavy'' to de ...
, are used as livestock in some parts of the world.
Insect farming Insect farming is the practice of raising and breeding insects as livestock, also referred to as ''minilivestock'' or ''micro stock''. Insects may be farmed for the commodities they produce (like silk, honey, lac or insect tea), or for them themse ...
, as well as
aquaculture Aquaculture (less commonly spelled aquiculture), also known as aquafarming, is the controlled cultivation ("farming") of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks, algae and other organisms of value such as aquatic plants (e.g. Nelumb ...
of
fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and Chondrichthyes, cartilaginous and bony fish as we ...
,
mollusc Mollusca is the second-largest phylum of invertebrate animals after the Arthropoda, the members of which are known as molluscs or mollusks (). Around 85,000 extant taxon, extant species of molluscs are recognized. The number of fossil sp ...
s, and
crustacean Crustaceans (Crustacea, ) form a large, diverse arthropod taxon which includes such animals as decapods, seed shrimp, branchiopods, fish lice, krill, remipedes, isopods, barnacles, copepods, amphipods and mantis shrimp. The crustacea ...
s, is widespread. Modern animal husbandry relies on production systems adapted to the type of land available.
Subsistence farming Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings. Subsistence agriculturalists target farm output for survival and for mostly local requirements, with little or no su ...
is being superseded by
intensive animal farming Intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production, also known by its opponents as factory farming and macro-farms, is a type of intensive agriculture, specifically an approach to animal husbandry designed to maximize production, while ...
in the more developed parts of the world, where, for example, beef cattle are kept in high density feedlots, and thousands of
chicken The chicken (''Gallus gallus domesticus'') is a domestication, domesticated junglefowl species, with attributes of wild species such as the grey junglefowl, grey and the Ceylon junglefowl that are originally from Southeastern Asia. Rooster ...
s may be raised in broiler houses or batteries. On poorer soil, such as in uplands, animals are often kept more extensively and may be allowed to roam widely, foraging for themselves. Most livestock are
herbivore A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example foliage or marine algae, for the main component of its diet. As a result of their plant diet, herbivorous animals typically have mouthpart ...
s, except for pigs and chickens which are
omnivore An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and Dietary fiber, fiber, and metab ...
s.
Ruminants Ruminants (suborder Ruminantia) are ungulate, hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally ...
like cattle and sheep are adapted to feed on grass; they can forage outdoors or may be fed entirely or in part on rations richer in energy and protein, such as pelleted cereals. Pigs and poultry cannot digest the
cellulose Cellulose is an organic compound In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, catenate (form chains with other ...
in forage and require other high-protein foods.


Etymology

The verb ''to husband'', meaning "to manage carefully," derives from an older meaning of ''
husband A husband is a male in a marriage, marital relationship, who may also be referred to as a spouse. The rights and obligations of a husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between societies and ...
'', which in the 14th century referred to the ownership and care of a household or farm, but today means the "control or judicious use of resources," and in agriculture, the cultivation of plants or animals.
Farmer A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock. A farmer mig ...
s and ranchers who raise livestock are considered to practice ''animal husbandry''.


History


Birth of husbandry

The
domestication Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which humans assume a significant degree of control over the reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organism ...
of livestock was driven by the need to have food on hand when hunting was unproductive. The desirable characteristics of a domestic animal are that it should be useful to the domesticator, should be able to thrive in his or her company, should breed freely, and be easy to tend. Domestication was not a single event, but a process repeated at various periods in different places. Sheep and goats were the animals that accompanied the
nomads A nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, Nomadic pastoralism, pastoral nomads (owning livestock), tinkers and Merchant, trader nomads. In t ...
in the Middle East, while cattle and pigs were associated with more settled communities. The first wild animal to be domesticated was the
dog The dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated descendant of the wolf. Also called the domestic dog, it is Domestication of the dog, derived from the extinct Pleistocene wolf, and the modern wolf is the dog's n ...
. Half-wild dogs, perhaps starting with young individuals, may have been tolerated as scavengers and killers of vermin, and being naturally
pack hunter A pack hunter or social predator is a predatory animal which hunts its prey by working together with other members of its species. Normally animals hunting in this way are closely related, and with the exceptions of chimpanzees where only male ...
s, were predisposed to become part of the human pack and join in the hunt. Prey animals, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, were progressively domesticated early in the history of agriculture. Pigs were domesticated in the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
between 8,500 and 8000 BC, sheep and goats in or near the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent ( ar, الهلال الخصيب) is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, State of Palestine, Palestine and Jordan, together with the northern region of Kuwait, sou ...
about 8,500 BC, and cattle from wild
aurochs The aurochs (''Bos primigenius'') ( or ) is an extinct Bos, cattle species, considered to be the wild ancestor of modern domestic cattle. With a shoulder height of up to in bulls and in cows, it was one of the largest herbivores in the Holo ...
in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8,500 BC. A cow was a great advantage to a villager as she produced more milk than her calf needed, and her strength could be put to use as a
working animal A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks instead of being slaughtered to harvest animal products. Some are used for their physical strength (e.g. oxen and draft horses) or for ...
, pulling a plough to increase production of crops, and drawing a sledge, and later a cart, to bring the produce home from the field. Draught animals were first used about 4,000 BC in the Middle East, increasing agricultural production immeasurably. In southern Asia, the
elephant Elephants are the Largest and heaviest animals, largest existing land animals. Three living species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. They are the only surviving members ...
was domesticated by 6,000 BC.Gupta, Anil K. in ''Origin of agriculture and domestication of plants and animals linked to early Holocene climate amelioration'', Current Science, Vol. 87, No. 1, 10 July 2004 59. Indian Academy of Sciences. Fossilised chicken bones dated to 5040 BC have been found in northeastern China, far from where their wild ancestors lived in the jungles of tropical Asia, but archaeologists believe that the original purpose of domestication was for the sport of
cockfighting A cockfight is a blood sport, held in a ring called a cockpit. The history of raising fowl for fighting goes back 6,000 years. The first documented use of the ''word'' gamecock, denoting use of the cock (bird), cock as to a "game", a sport, pas ...
. Meanwhile, in South America, the
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a List of meat animals, meat and pack animal by Inca empire, Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are social animals and live with othe ...
and the
alpaca The alpaca (''Lama pacos'') is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can successfu ...
had been domesticated, probably before 3,000 BC, as beasts of burden and for their wool. Neither was strong enough to pull a plough which limited the development of agriculture in the New World. Horses occur naturally on the steppes of Central Asia and their domestication began around 3,000 BC in the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal sea, marginal Mediterranean sea (oceanography), mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of An ...
and
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the List of lakes by area, world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad s ...
region. Although horses were originally seen as a source of meat, their use as
pack animal A pack animal, also known as a sumpter animal or beast of burden, is an individual or type of working animal A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks instead of being slaught ...
s and for riding followed. Around the same time, the wild ass was being tamed in Egypt.
Camel A camel (from: la, camelus and grc-gre, κάμηλος (''kamēlos'') from Semitic languages, Hebrew or Phoenician: גָמָל ''gāmāl''.) is an even-toed ungulate in the genus ''Camelus'' that bears distinctive fatty deposits known as "hum ...
s were domesticated soon after this, with the
Bactrian camel The Bactrian camel (''Camelus bactrianus''), also known as the Mongolian camel or domestic Bactrian camel, is a large even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped drome ...
in
Mongolia Mongolia; Mongolian script: , , ; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia" () is a landlocked country in East Asia, bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia border, to the north and China China–Mongolia border, to the s ...
and the Arabian camel becoming beasts of burden. By 1000 BC, caravans of Arabian camels were linking India with Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean.


Ancient civilisations

In
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
, cattle were the most important livestock, and sheep, goats, and pigs were also kept; poultry including ducks, geese, and pigeons were captured in nets and bred on farms, where they were force-fed with dough to fatten them. The Nile provided a plentiful source of fish.
Honey bee A honey bee (also spelled honeybee) is a eusocial flying insect within the genus ''Apis'' of the bee clade, all native to Afro-Eurasia. After bees spread naturally throughout Africa and Eurasia, humans became responsible for the current cosmop ...
s were domesticated from at least the Old Kingdom, providing both honey and wax. In
ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
, all the livestock known in ancient Egypt were available. In addition, rabbits were domesticated for food by the first century BC. To help flush them out from their burrows, the
polecat Polecat is a common name for several mustelid species in the order (biology), order Carnivora and subfamily, subfamilies Ictonychinae and Mustelinae. Polecats do not form a single taxonomic rank (i.e. clade). The name is applied to several specie ...
was domesticated as the
ferret The ferret (''Mustela furo'') is a small, Domestication, domesticated species belonging to the family Mustelidae. The ferret is most likely a domesticated form of the wild European polecat (''Mustela putorius''), evidenced by their Hybrid (biol ...
, its use described by
Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman Empire, Roman author, Natural history, naturalist and Natural philosophy, natural philosopher, and naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and a friend of t ...
.


Medieval husbandry

In northern Europe, agriculture including animal husbandry went into decline when the Roman empire collapsed. Some aspects such as the herding of animals continued throughout the period. By the 11th century, the economy had recovered and the countryside was again productive. The ''
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manusc ...
'' recorded every parcel of land and every animal in England: "there was not one single hide, nor a yard of land, nay, moreover ... not even an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was there left, that was not set down in he king'swrit." For example, the royal
manor Manor may refer to: Land ownership *Manorialism Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership (or "Land tenure, tenure") in parts of Europe, notably France and later England, during the Midd ...
of Earley in
Berkshire Berkshire ( ; in the 17th century sometimes spelt phonetically as Barkeshire; abbreviated Berks.) is a historic county in South East England. One of the home counties, Berkshire was recognised by Queen Elizabeth II as the Royal County of B ...
, one of thousands of villages recorded in the book, had in 1086 "2 fisheries worth aying tax of7s and 6d ach yearand 20 acres of meadow or livestock Woodland for eeding70 pigs." The improvements of animal husbandry in the medieval period in Europe went hand in hand with other developments. Improvements to the plough allowed the soil to be tilled to a greater depth. Horses took over from oxen as the main providers of traction, new ideas on
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. It reduces reliance on one set of nutrients, pest and weed pressure, and the probability of developing resistant ...
were developed and the growing of crops for winter fodder gained ground. Peas, beans and vetches became common; they increased soil fertility through nitrogen fixation, allowing more livestock to be kept.


Columbian exchange

Exploration and colonisation of North and South America resulted in the introduction into Europe of such crops as maize, potatoes, sweet potatoes and manioc, while the principal Old World livestock – cattle, horses, sheep and goats – were introduced into the New World for the first time along with wheat, barley, rice and turnips.


Agricultural Revolution

Selective breeding Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to Selection (biology), selectively develop particular phenotypic traits (characteristics) by choosing which typically ...
for desired traits was established as a scientific practice by Robert Bakewell during the
British Agricultural Revolution The British Agricultural Revolution, or Second Agricultural Revolution, was an unprecedented increase in agricultural production in Britain arising from increases in labour and land productivity between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. Agric ...
in the 18th century. One of his most important breeding programs was with sheep. Using native stock, he was able to quickly select for large, yet fine-boned sheep, with long, lustrous wool. The Lincoln Longwool was improved by Bakewell and in turn the Lincoln was used to develop the subsequent breed, named the New (or Dishley) Leicester. It was hornless and had a square, meaty body with straight top lines. These sheep were exported widely and have contributed to numerous modern breeds. Under his influence, English farmers began to breed
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
for use primarily as beef. Long-horned heifers were crossed with the Westmoreland bull to create the Dishley Longhorn. The semi-natural, unfertilised pastures formed by traditional agricultural methods in Europe were managed by grazing and mowing. As the ecological impact of this land management strategy is similar to the impact of such natural disturbances as a
wildfire A wildfire, forest fire, bushfire, wildland fire or rural fire is an unplanned, uncontrolled and unpredictable fire in an area of Combustibility and flammability, combustible vegetation. Depending on the type of vegetation present, a wildfire ...
, this agricultural system shares many beneficial characteristics with a natural habitat, including the promotion of
biodiversity Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic (''genetic variability''), species (''species diversity''), and ecosystem (''ecosystem d ...
. This strategy is declining in Europe today due to the intensification of agriculture. The mechanized and chemical methods used are causing biodiversity to decline.


Practices


Systems

Traditionally, animal husbandry was part of the subsistence farmer's way of life, producing not only the food needed by the family but also the fuel, fertiliser, clothing, transport and draught power. Killing the animal for food was a secondary consideration, and wherever possible its products such as wool, eggs, milk and blood (by the Maasai) were harvested while the animal was still alive. In the traditional system of
transhumance Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism, a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions (''vertical transhumance''), it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower vall ...
, people and livestock moved seasonally between fixed summer and winter pastures; in
montane Montane ecosystems are found on the slopes of mountains. The alpine climate in these regions strongly affects the ecosystem because temperatures lapse rate, fall as elevation increases, causing the ecosystem to stratify. This stratification is ...
regions the summer pasture was up in the mountains, the winter pasture in the valleys. Animals can be kept extensively or intensively. Extensive systems involve animals roaming at will, or under the supervision of a herdsman, often for their protection from
predators Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common List of feeding behaviours, feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (wh ...
.
Ranch A ranch (from es, rancho/Mexican Spanish) is an area of landscape, land, including various structures, given primarily to ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. It is a subtype of a farm. These terms are ...
ing in the
Western United States The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the List of regions of the United States#Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions, region comprising the westernmost U.S. state, states of the United ...
involves large herds of cattle grazing widely over public and private lands. Similar cattle stations are found in South America, Australia and other places with large areas of land and low rainfall. Ranching systems have been used for
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
,
deer Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the red deer, and the fallow deer; and the Capreolinae, including the ...
,
ostrich Ostriches are large flightless birds of the genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. I ...
,
emu The emu () (''Dromaius novaehollandiae'') is the second-tallest living bird after its ratite A ratite () is any of a diverse group of flightless bird, flightless, large, long-necked, and long-legged birds of the infraclass Palaeognathae. ...
,
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a List of meat animals, meat and pack animal by Inca empire, Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are social animals and live with othe ...
and
alpaca The alpaca (''Lama pacos'') is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can successfu ...
. In the uplands of the United Kingdom, sheep are turned out on the fells in spring and graze the abundant mountain grasses untended, being brought to lower altitudes late in the year, with supplementary feeding being provided in winter. In rural locations,
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus ''Sus (genus), Sus'', is an Omnivore, omnivorous, Domestication, domesticated, even-toed ungulate, even-toed, hoofed ma ...
s and
poultry Poultry () are domestication, domesticated birds kept by humans for their egg (food) , eggs, their meat or their feathers. These birds are most typically members of the Superorder (biology), superorder Fowl, Galloanserae (fowl), especially the ...
can obtain much of their nutrition from scavenging, and in African communities, hens may live for months without being fed, and still produce one or two eggs a week. At the other extreme, in the more developed parts of the world, animals are often intensively managed; dairy cows may be kept in zero-grazing conditions with all their forage brought to them; beef cattle may be kept in high density
feedlot A feedlot or feed yard is a type of animal feeding operation (AFO) which is used in intensive animal farming, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter. Large beef feedlots are called conc ...
s; pigs may be housed in climate-controlled buildings and never go outdoors; poultry may be reared in barns and kept in cages as laying birds under lighting-controlled conditions. In between these two extremes are semi-intensive, often family-run farms where livestock graze outside for much of the year, silage or hay is made to cover the times of year when the grass stops growing, and fertiliser, feed, and other inputs are brought onto the farm from outside.


Feeding

Animals used as livestock are predominantly
herbivorous A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example foliage or marine algae, for the main component of its diet. As a result of their plant diet, herbivorous animals typically have mouthpart ...
, the main exceptions being the pig and the chicken which are omnivorous. The herbivores can be divided into "concentrate selectors" which selectively feed on seeds, fruits and highly nutritious young foliage, "grazers" which mainly feed on grass, and "intermediate feeders" which choose their diet from the whole range of available plant material. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer and antelopes are
ruminants Ruminants (suborder Ruminantia) are ungulate, hoofed herbivorous grazing or browsing mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally ...
; they digest food in two steps, chewing and swallowing in the normal way, and then regurgitating the semidigested cud to chew it again and thus extract the maximum possible food value. The dietary needs of these animals is mostly met by eating grass. Grasses grow from the base of the leaf-blade, enabling it to thrive even when heavily grazed or cut. In many climates grass growth is seasonal, for example in the temperate
summer Summer is the Heat, hottest of the four temperate seasons, occurring after Spring (season), spring and before autumn. At or centred on the summer solstice, the earliest sunrise and latest sunset occurs, daylight hours are longest and dark h ...
or tropical
rainy season The rainy season is the time of year when most of a region's average annual rainfall occurs. Rainy Season may also refer to: * ''Rainy Season'' (short story), a 1989 short horror story by Stephen King * "Rainy Season", a 2018 song by Monni * '' ...
, so some areas of the crop are set aside to be cut and preserved, either as
hay Hay is grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous Family (biology), family of monocotyledonous flowering plants commonly known as grasses. It includes the cereal grasses, bamboos and the grasses of natural grassla ...
(dried grass), or as
silage Silage () is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by fermentation (food), fermentation to the point of souring, acidification. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants (cud-chewing animals). Th ...
(fermented grass). Other forage crops are also grown and many of these, as well as crop residues, can be ensiled to fill the gap in the nutritional needs of livestock in the lean season. Extensively reared animals may subsist entirely on forage, but more intensively kept livestock will require energy and protein-rich foods in addition. Energy is mainly derived from cereals and cereal by-products, fats and oils and sugar-rich foods, while protein may come from fish or meat meal, milk products,
legumes A legume () is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. When used as a dry grain, the seed is also called a pulse. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock for ...
and other plant foods, often the by-products of vegetable oil extraction. Pigs and poultry are non-ruminants and unable to digest the
cellulose Cellulose is an organic compound In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon chemical bond, bonds. Due to carbon's ability to Catenation, catenate (form chains with other ...
in grass and other forages, so they are fed entirely on cereals and other high-energy foodstuffs. The ingredients for the animals' rations can be grown on the farm or can be bought, in the form of pelleted or cubed, compound foodstuffs specially formulated for the different classes of livestock, their growth stages and their specific nutritional requirements. Vitamins and minerals are added to balance the diet. Farmed fish are usually fed pelleted food.


Breeding

The breeding of farm animals seldom occurs spontaneously but is managed by farmers with a view to encouraging traits seen as desirable. These include hardiness, fertility, docility, mothering abilities, fast growth rates, low feed consumption per unit of growth, better body proportions, higher yields, and better fibre qualities. Undesirable traits such as health defects and aggressiveness are selected against. Selective breeding has been responsible for large increases in productivity. For example, in 2007, a typical broiler chicken at eight weeks old was 4.8 times as heavy as a bird of similar age in 1957, while in the thirty years to 2007, the average milk yield of a dairy cow in the United States nearly doubled.


Animal health

Good husbandry, proper feeding, and
hygiene Hygiene is a series of practices performed to preserve health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases." Personal hygiene refer ...
are the main contributors to animal health on the farm, bringing economic benefits through maximised production. When, despite these precautions, animals still become sick, they are treated with
veterinary medicine Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliatio ...
s, by the farmer and the
veterinarian A veterinarian (vet), also known as a veterinary surgeon or veterinary physician, is a medical professional who practices veterinary medicine. They manage a wide range of health conditions and injuries in non-human animals. Along with this, vet ...
. In the European Union, when farmers treat their own animals, they are required to follow the guidelines for treatment and to record the treatments given. Animals are susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions that may affect their health. Some, like
classical swine fever Classical swine fever (CSF) or hog cholera (also sometimes called pig plague based on the German word ) is a highly contagious disease of Suina, swine (Suidae, Old World and Peccary, New World pigs). It has been mentioned as a potential biologi ...
and
scrapie Scrapie () is a fatal, degenerative disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not immediately due to any exter ...
are specific to one type of stock, while others, like
foot-and-mouth disease Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or hoof-and-mouth disease (HMD) is an infectious disease, infectious and sometimes fatal virus (biology), viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including domestic and wild Bovidae, bovids. The virus causes ...
affect all cloven-hoofed animals. Animals living under intensive conditions are prone to internal and external
parasite Parasitism is a Symbiosis, close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the Host (biology), host, causing it some harm, and is Adaptation, adapted structurally to this way of lif ...
s; increasing numbers of sea lice are affecting farmed salmon in Scotland. Reducing the parasite burdens of livestock results in increased productivity and profitability. Where the condition is serious, governments impose regulations on import and export, on the movement of stock,
quarantine A quarantine is a restriction on the Freedom of movement, movement of people, animals and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or Pest (organism), pests. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing th ...
restrictions and the reporting of suspected cases.
Vaccine A vaccine is a biological Dosage form, preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease, infectious or cancer, malignant disease. The safety and effectiveness of vaccines has been widely studied and verifie ...
s are available against certain diseases, and antibiotics are widely used where appropriate. At one time, antibiotics were routinely added to certain compound foodstuffs to promote growth, but this practice is now frowned on in many countries because of the risk that it may lead to
antimicrobial resistance Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes evolve mechanisms that protect them from the effects of antimicrobials. All classes of microbes can evolve resistance. Fungi evolve antifungal resistance. Viruses evolve antiviral resistance. P ...
in livestock and in humans. Governments are concerned with
zoonoses A zoonosis (; plural zoonoses) or zoonotic disease is an infectious disease of humans caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has Cross-species transmission, jumped from a non-human (usuall ...
, diseases that humans may acquire from animals. Wild animal populations may harbour diseases that can affect domestic animals which may acquire them as a result of insufficient
biosecurity Biosecurity refers to measures aimed at preventing the introduction and/or spread of harmful organisms (e.g. viruses, bacteria, etc.) to animals and plants in order to minimize the risk of transmission of infectious disease. In agriculture, thes ...
. An outbreak of
Nipah virus Nipah virus, scientific name ''Nipah henipavirus'', is a bat-borne virus that causes Nipah virus infection in humans and other animals, a disease with a high mortality rate. Numerous disease outbreaks caused by Nipah virus have occurred in Sout ...
in Malaysia in 1999 was traced back to pigs becoming ill after contact with fruit-eating
flying fox ''Pteropus'' (suborder Yinpterochiroptera) is a genus of megabats which are among the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as fruit bats or flying foxes, among other colloquial names. They live in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Austra ...
es, their faeces and urine. The pigs in turn passed the infection to humans. Avian flu
H5N1 Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 (A/H5N1) is a subtype of the influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type ...
is present in wild bird populations and can be carried large distances by migrating birds. This virus is easily transmissible to domestic poultry, and to humans living in close proximity with them. Other infectious diseases affecting wild animals, farm animals and humans include
rabies Rabies is a viral disease that causes encephalitis Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. The severity can be variable with symptoms including reduction or alteration in consciousness, headache, fever, confusion, a stiff neck, a ...
,
leptospirosis Leptospirosis is a blood infection caused by the bacteria ''Leptospira''. Signs and symptoms can range from none to mild (headaches, Myalgia, muscle pains, and fevers) to severe (pulmonary hemorrhage, bleeding in the lungs or meningitis). Weil ...
,
brucellosis Brucellosis is a highly contagious zoonosis caused by ingestion of Pasteurization, unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat from infected animals, or close contact with their secretions. It is also known as undulant fever, Malta fever, and Mediterra ...
,
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by ''Mycobacterium tuberculosis'' (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections show no symptoms, in ...
and
trichinosis Trichinosis, also known as trichinellosis, is a parasitic disease caused by roundworms of the '' Trichinella'' type. During the initial infection, invasion of the intestines The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, digestive tract, alimentar ...
.


Range of species

There is no single universally agreed definition of which species are livestock. Widely agreed types of livestock include cattle for beef and dairy, sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry. Various other species are sometimes considered livestock, such as horses, while poultry birds are sometimes excluded. In some parts of the world, livestock includes species such as buffalo, and the South American camelids, the alpaca and llama. Some authorities use much broader definitions to include fish in
aquaculture Aquaculture (less commonly spelled aquiculture), also known as aquafarming, is the controlled cultivation ("farming") of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks, algae and other organisms of value such as aquatic plants (e.g. Nelumb ...
, micro-livestock such as
rabbits Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk fo ...
and
rodents Rodents (from Latin , 'to gnaw') are mammals of the Order (biology), order Rodentia (), which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. About 40% of all mammal species are roden ...
like
guinea pigs The guinea pig or domestic guinea pig (''Cavia porcellus''), also known as the cavy or domestic cavy (), is a species of rodent belonging to the genus ''Cavia'' in the family Caviidae. Animal fancy, Breeders tend to use the word ''cavy'' to de ...
, as well as insects from
honey bee A honey bee (also spelled honeybee) is a eusocial flying insect within the genus ''Apis'' of the bee clade, all native to Afro-Eurasia. After bees spread naturally throughout Africa and Eurasia, humans became responsible for the current cosmop ...
s to crickets raised for human consumption.


Products

Animals are raised for a wide variety of products, principally
meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted, farmed, and scavenged animals for meat since prehistoric times. The establishment of settlements in the Neolithic Revolution allowed the domestication of animals such as chick ...
,
wool Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep and other mammal, mammals, especially goat, goats, rabbit, rabbits, and camelid, camelids. The term may also refer to inorganic materials, such as mineral wool and glass wool, that have properties ...
,
milk Milk is a white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals (including breastfeeding, breastfed human infants) before they are able to digestion, digest solid food. Immune fact ...
, and
egg An egg is an organic vessel grown by an animal to carry a possibly fertilized egg cell (a zygote) and to incubate from it an embryo An embryo is an initial stage of development of a multicellular organism. In organisms that Sexual repr ...
s, but also including
tallow Tallow is a rendered form of beef Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle (''Bos taurus''). In prehistoric times, humankind hunted aurochs and later domesticated them. Since that time, numerous breeds of cattle have been bred ...
,
isinglass Isinglass () is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is a form of collagen used mainly for the Clarification (wine), clarification or fining of some beer and wine. It can also be cooked into a paste for specialised Fi ...
and
rennet Rennet () is a complex set of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals. Chymosin, its key component, is a protease, protease enzyme that curdling, curdles the casein in milk. In addition to chymosin, rennet contains other enzymes, su ...
. Animals are also kept for more specialised purposes, such as to produce
vaccine A vaccine is a biological Dosage form, preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease, infectious or cancer, malignant disease. The safety and effectiveness of vaccines has been widely studied and verifie ...
s and
antiserum Antiserum is a blood serum containing monoclonal or polyclonal response, polyclonal antibodies that is used to spread passive immunity to many diseases via blood donation (plasmapheresis). For example, convalescent serum, passive antibody transfu ...
(containing
antibodies An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform ...
) for medical use. Where fodder or other crops are grown alongside animals,
manure Manure is organic matter that is used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Most manure consists of animal feces; other sources include compost and green manure. Manures contribute to the Soil fertility, fertility of soil by adding organic ma ...
can serve as a fertiliser, returning minerals and organic matter to the soil in a semi-closed organic system.


Branches


Dairy

Although all mammals produce milk to nourish their young, the cow is predominantly used throughout the world to produce milk and milk products for human consumption. Other animals used to a lesser extent for this purpose include sheep, goats, camels, buffaloes, yaks, reindeer, horses and donkeys. All these animals have been domesticated over the centuries, being bred for such desirable characteristics as fecundity, productivity, docility and the ability to thrive under the prevailing conditions. Whereas in the past cattle had multiple functions, modern dairy cow breeding has resulted in specialised Holstein Friesian-type animals that produce large quantities of milk economically.
Artificial insemination Artificial insemination is the deliberate introduction of sperm into a female's cervix or uterus, uterine cavity for the purpose of achieving a pregnancy through in vivo fertilization by means other than sexual intercourse. It is a assisted repr ...
is widely available to allow farmers to select for the particular traits that suit their circumstances. Whereas in the past cows were kept in small herds on
family farm A family farm is generally understood to be a farm owned and/or operated by a family; it is sometimes considered to be an Estate (land), estate passed down by inheritance. Although a recurring conceptual model, conceptual and archetype, archet ...
s, grazing pastures and being fed hay in winter, nowadays there is a trend towards larger herds, more intensive systems, the feeding of
silage Silage () is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by fermentation (food), fermentation to the point of souring, acidification. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants (cud-chewing animals). Th ...
and "zero grazing", a system where grass is cut and brought to the cow, which is housed year-round. In many communities, milk production is only part of the purpose of keeping an animal which may also be used as a beast of burden or to draw a plough, or for the production of fibre, meat and leather, with the dung being used for fuel or for the improvement of
soil fertility Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil to sustain agricultural plant growth, i.e. to provide plant habitat and result in sustained and consistent Crop yield, yields of high quality.
. Sheep and goats may be favoured for dairy production in climates and conditions that do not suit dairy cows.


Meat

Meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted, farmed, and scavenged animals for meat since prehistoric times. The establishment of settlements in the Neolithic Revolution allowed the domestication of animals such as chick ...
, mainly from farmed animals, is a major source of dietary
protein Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including Enzyme catalysis, catalysing metabo ...
and essential nutrients around the world, averaging about 8% of man's energy intake. The actual types eaten depend on local preferences, availability, cost and other factors, with cattle, sheep, pigs and goats being the main species involved. Cattle generally produce a single offspring annually which takes more than a year to mature; sheep and goats often have twins and these are ready for slaughter in less than a year; pigs are more prolific, producing more than one litter of up to about 11 piglets each year. Horses, donkeys, deer, buffalo, llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicunas are farmed for meat in various regions. Some desirable traits of animals raised for meat include fecundity, hardiness, fast growth rate, ease of management and high food conversion efficiency. About half of the world's meat is produced from animals grazing on open ranges or on enclosed pastures, the other half being produced intensively in various factory-farming systems; these are mostly cows, pigs or poultry, and often reared indoors, typically at high densities.


Poultry

Poultry, kept for their eggs and for their meat, include chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks. The great majority of laying birds used for egg production are chickens. Methods for keeping layers range from free-range systems, where the birds can roam as they will but are housed at night for their own protection, through semi-intensive systems where they are housed in barns and have perches, litter and some freedom of movement, to intensive systems where they are kept in cages. The
battery cage Battery cages are a housing system used for various animal production methods, but primarily for chicken, egg-laying hens. The name arises from the arrangement of rows and columns of identical cages connected together, in a unit, as in an artill ...
s are arranged in long rows in multiple tiers, with external feeders, drinkers, and egg collection facilities. This is the most labour saving and economical method of egg production but has been criticised on animal welfare grounds as the birds are unable to exhibit their normal behaviours. In the developed world, the majority of the poultry reared for meat is raised indoors in big sheds, with automated equipment under environmentally controlled conditions. Chickens raised in this way are known as broilers, and genetic improvements have meant that they can be grown to slaughter weight within six or seven weeks of hatching. Newly hatched chicks are restricted to a small area and given supplementary heating. Litter on the floor absorbs the droppings and the area occupied is expanded as they grow. Feed and water is supplied automatically and the lighting is controlled. The birds may be harvested on several occasions or the whole shed may be cleared at one time. A similar rearing system is usually used for turkeys, which are less hardy than chickens, but they take longer to grow and are often moved on to separate fattening units to finish. Ducks are particularly popular in Asia and Australia and can be killed at seven weeks under commercial conditions.


Aquaculture

Aquaculture has been defined as "the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants and implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated." In practice it can take place in the sea or in freshwater, and be extensive or intensive. Whole bays, lakes or ponds may be devoted to aquaculture, or the farmed animal may be retained in cages (fish),
artificial reef An artificial reef is a human-created underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, to control erosion Erosion is the action of surface processes (such as Surface runoff, water f ...
s, racks or strings (shellfish). Fish and prawns can be cultivated in
rice paddies A paddy field is a flooded field of arable land Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be plough A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning t ...
, either arriving naturally or being introduced, and both crops can be harvested together. Fish hatcheries provide larval and juvenile fish, crustaceans and shellfish, for use in aquaculture systems. When large enough these are transferred to growing-on tanks and sold to fish farms to reach harvest size. Some species that are commonly raised in hatcheries include
shrimp Shrimp are crustaceans (a form of shellfish) with elongated bodies and a primarily swimming mode of locomotion – most commonly Caridea and Dendrobranchiata of the Decapoda, decapod order, although some Shrimp#Non-decapods , crustaceans out ...
s,
prawn Prawn is a common name for small aquatic crustaceans with an exoskeleton and ten legs (which is a member of the order decapoda), some of which can be eaten. The term "prawn"Mortenson, Philip B (2010''This is not a weasel: a close look at nature' ...
s,
salmon Salmon () is the common name for several list of commercially important fish species, commercially important species of euryhaline ray-finned fish from the family (biology), family Salmonidae, which are native to tributary, tributaries of the ...
,
tilapia Tilapia ( ) is the common name In biology, a common name of a taxon or organism (also known as a vernacular name, English name, colloquial name, country name, popular name, or farmer's name) is a name that is based on the normal language ...
,
oyster Oyster is the common name for a number of different families of Seawater, salt-water bivalve molluscs that live in Marine (ocean), marine or Brackish water, brackish habitats. In some species, the valves are highly calcified, and many are somew ...
s and
scallop Scallop () is a common name that encompasses various species of Marine (ocean), marine bivalve mollusc, mollusks in the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic Family (biology), family Pectinidae, the scallops. However, the common name "scallop" is also s ...
s. Similar facilities can be used to raise species with conservation needs to be released into the wild, or game fish for restocking waterways. Important aspects of husbandry at these early stages include selection of breeding stock, control of water quality and nutrition. In the wild, there is a massive amount of mortality at the nursery stage; farmers seek to minimise this while at the same time maximising growth rates.


Insects

Bees Bees are winged insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their roles in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey. Bees are a monophyly, monophyletic lineage within the ...
have been kept in hives since at least the
First Dynasty of Egypt The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conve ...
, five thousand years ago, and man had been harvesting honey from the wild long before that. Fixed comb hives are used in many parts of the world and are made from any locally available material. In more advanced economies, where modern strains of domestic bee have been selected for docility and productiveness, various designs of hive are used which enable the combs to be removed for processing and extraction of honey. Quite apart from the
honey Honey is a sweet and Viscosity, viscous substance made by several Bee, bees, the best-known of which are honey bees. Honey is made and stored to nourish bee colonies. Bees produce honey by gathering and then refining the sugary secretions of ...
and wax they produce, honey bees are important
pollinator A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female carpel, stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains. Insects are ...
s of crops and wild plants, and in many places hives are transported around the countryside to assist in pollination.
Sericulture Sericulture, or silk farming, is the cultivation of silkworm The domestic silk moth (''Bombyx mori''), is an insect from the moth family (biology), family Bombycidae. It is the closest relative of ''Bombyx mandarina'', the wild silk moth ...
, the rearing of silkworms, was first adopted by the Chinese during the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River The Yellow River or Huang He (Chinese: , Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandar ...
. The only species farmed commercially is the domesticated silkmoth. When it spins its cocoon, each larva produces an exceedingly long, slender thread of silk. The larvae feed on mulberry leaves and in Europe, only one generation is normally raised each year as this is a deciduous tree. In China, Korea and Japan however, two generations are normal, and in the tropics, multiple generations are expected. Most production of silk occurs in the Far East, with a synthetic diet being used to rear the silkworms in Japan. Insects form part of the human diet in many cultures. In Thailand,
crickets Crickets are orthoptera Orthoptera () is an order of insects that comprises the grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets, including closely related insects, such as the bush crickets or katydids and wētā. The order is subdivided into t ...
are farmed for this purpose in the north of the country, and palm weevil larvae in the south. The crickets are kept in pens, boxes or drawers and fed on commercial pelleted poultry food, while the palm weevil larvae live on cabbage palm and
sago palm Sago palm is a common name for several plants which are used to produce a starchy food known as sago Sago () is a starch extracted from the pith, or spongy core tissue, of various tropical palm stems, especially those of ''Metroxylon sagu''. ...
trees, which limits their production to areas where these trees grow. Another delicacy of this region is the bamboo caterpillar, and the best rearing and harvesting techniques in semi-natural habitats are being studied.


Effects


Environmental impact

Animal husbandry has a significant impact on the world environment. Both production and consumption of animal products have increased rapidly. Over the past 50 years, meat production has trebled, whereas the production of dairy products doubled and that of eggs almost increased fourfold. Meanwhile, meat consumption has also nearly doubled worldwide. Within that increased overall consumption of meat, developing countries had a surge in meat consumption particularly in the portion of monogastric livestock. Being a part of the
animal–industrial complex The term animal–industrial complex (AIC) refers to the systematic and institutionalized exploitation of animals. It includes every Human uses of animals, economic activity involving animals, such as the food industry (e.g., meat, dairy, poultry ...
, animal agriculture is the primary driver of climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, and of the crossing of almost every other planetary boundary, in addition to killing more than 60 billion non-human land animals annually. It is responsible for somewhere between 20 and 33% of the fresh water usage in the world, and livestock, and the production of feed for them, occupy about a third of the Earth's ice-free land. Livestock production is a contributing factor in species
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional ext ...
,
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. It is the spread of arid areas caused by ...
, and
habitat destruction Habitat destruction (also termed habitat loss and habitat reduction) is the process by which a natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. The organisms that previously inhabited the site are displaced or dead, thereby ...
. Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in various ways and is the primary driver of the
Holocene extinction The Holocene extinction, or Anthropocene extinction, is the ongoing extinction event during the Holocene epoch. The extinctions span numerous families of bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, ...
. It is estimated that 70% of the agricultural land and 30% of the total land surface of the Earth is involved either directly or indirectly in animal agriculture. Habitat is destroyed by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, while predators and herbivores are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits; for example, animal husbandry is responsible for up to 91% of the deforestation in the Amazon region. In addition, livestock produce
greenhouse gas A greenhouse gas (GHG or GhG) is a gas that Absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorbs and Emission (electromagnetic radiation), emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse ...
es. Cows produce some 570 million cubic metres of methane per day, that accounts for 35 to 40% of the overall
methane emissions Increasing methane emissions are a major contributor to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, and are responsible for up to one-third of near-term global heating. During 2019, about 60% (360 million tons) of methane r ...
of the planet. Further, livestock production is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of
nitrous oxide Nitrous oxide (dinitrogen oxide or dinitrogen monoxide), commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous, or nos, is a chemical compound, an Nitrogen oxide, oxide of nitrogen with the Chemical formula, formula . At room temperature, it is a colourl ...
. As a result, ways of mitigating animal husbandry's environmental impact are being studied. Strategies include using
biogas Biogas is a mixture of gases, primarily consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste and food waste. ...
from manure, genetic selection, immunization, rumen
defaunation Defaunation is the global, local or functional extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, ...
, outcompetition of methanogenic archaea with acetogens, introduction of methanotrophic bacteria into the rumen, diet modification and grazing management, among others. It has been suggested that beef products finished in feedlot are less resource intensive than those pastured beef products. A diet change (with ''
Asparagopsis taxiformis ''Asparagopsis taxiformis'', (red sea plume or limu kohu) formerly ''A. sanfordiana'', is a species of red algae Red algae, or Rhodophyta (, ; ), are one of the oldest groups of eukaryotic algae. The Rhodophyta also comprises one of the large ...
'') allowed for a reduction of up to 99% of methane production in an experimental study with three ruminants.


Animal welfare

Since the 18th century, people have become increasingly concerned about the welfare of farm animals. Possible measures of welfare include
longevity The word "wikt:longevity, longevity" is sometimes used as a synonym for "life expectancy" in demography. However, the term ''longevity'' is sometimes meant to refer only to especially long-lived members of a population, whereas ''life expectanc ...
,
behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English) is the range of Action (philosophy), actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or Artificial Intelligence, artificial entities in some environment. These systems c ...
,
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying the ...
,
reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offspring" – are produced from their "parent" or parents. Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life; each individual org ...
, freedom from
disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not immediately due to any external injury. Diseases are often known to be medica ...
, and freedom from
immunosuppression Immunosuppression is a reduction of the activation or efficacy of the immune system. Some portions of the immune system itself have immunosuppressive effects on other parts of the immune system, and immunosuppression may occur as an adverse reacti ...
. Standards and laws for animal welfare have been created worldwide, broadly in line with the most widely held position in the western world, a form of
utilitarianism In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of Normative ethics, normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit ...
: that it is morally acceptable for humans to use non-human animals, provided that no unnecessary suffering is caused, and that the benefits to humans outweigh the costs to the livestock. An opposing view is that animals have rights, should not be regarded as property, are not necessary to use, and should never be used by humans.
Live export Live export is the commercial transport of livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to provide labor and produce diversified products for consumption such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and w ...
of animals has risen to meet increased global demand for livestock such as in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabian Peninsula, Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Anatolia, Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Pro ...
. Animal rights activists have objected to long-distance transport of animals; one result was the banning of live exports from New Zealand in 2003.
David Nibert David Alan Nibert (born 1953) is an American sociologist, academic authorship, author, activist and professor of sociology at Wittenberg University. He is the co-organizer of the Section on Animals and Society of the American Sociological Associa ...
, professor of sociology at
Wittenberg University Wittenberg University is a Private university, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. It has 1,326 full-time students representing 33 states and 9 foreign countries. Wittenberg University ...
, posits that, based on contemporary scholarship by ethologists and biologists about the sentience and intelligence of other animals, "we can assume that, for the most part, the other animals' experience of capture, enslavement, use, and slaying was one of suffering and violence." Much of this involved direct physical violence, but also structural violence as their systemic oppression and enslavement "resulted in their inability to meet their basic needs, the loss of self-determination, and the loss of opportunity to live in a natural way." He says that the remains of domesticated animals from thousands of years ago found during archeological excavations revealed numerous bone pathologies, which provide evidence of extreme suffering:


In culture

Since the 18th century, the farmer
John Bull John Bull is a national personification of the United Kingdom in general and England in particular, especially in political cartoons and similar graphic works. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged, country-dwelling, jolly and matter- ...
has represented English national identity, first in
John Arbuthnot John Arbuthnot FRS (''baptised'' 29 April 1667 – 27 February 1735), often known simply as Dr Arbuthnot, was a Scottish physician, satire, satirist and polymath in London. He is best remembered for his contributions to mathematics, his ...
's political satires, and soon afterwards in cartoons by
James Gillray James Gillray (13 August 1756Gillray, James and Draper Hill (1966). ''Fashionable contrasts''. Phaidon. p. 8.Baptism register for Fetter Lane (Moravian) confirms birth as 13 August 1756, baptism 17 August 1756 1June 1815) was a British list of c ...
and others including
John Tenniel Sir John Tenniel (; 28 February 182025 February 1914)Johnson, Lewis (2003), "Tenniel, John", ''Grove Art Online, Oxford Art Online'', Oxford University Press. Web. Retrieved 12 December 2016. was an English illustrator, graphic humorist and poli ...
. He likes food, beer, dogs, horses, and country sports; he is practical and down to earth, and anti-intellectual. Farm animals are widespread in books and songs for children; the reality of animal husbandry is often distorted, softened, or idealized, giving children an almost entirely fictitious account of farm life. The books often depict happy animals free to roam in attractive countryside, a picture completely at odds with the realities of the impersonal, mechanized activities involved in modern intensive farming. Pigs, for example, appear in several of
Beatrix Potter Helen Beatrix Potter (, 28 July 186622 December 1943) was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and Conservation movement, conservationist. She is best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as ''The Tale of Peter ...
's "little books", as Piglet in A.A. Milne's
Winnie the Pooh Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear and Pooh, is a fictional Anthropomorphism, anthropomorphic teddy bear created by English author A. A. Milne and English illustrator E. H. Shepard. The first collection of stories about the character w ...
stories, and somewhat more darkly (with a hint of animals going to slaughter) as Babe in Dick King-Smith's '' The Sheep-Pig'', and as Wilbur in E. B. White's '' Charlotte's Web''. Pigs tend to be "bearers of cheerfulness, good humour and innocence". Many of these books are completely
anthropomorphic Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology. Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics t ...
, dressing farm animals in clothes and having them walk on two legs, live in houses, and perform human activities. The
children's song A children's song may be a nursery rhyme A nursery rhyme is a traditional poem or song for children in Britain and many other countries, but usage of the term dates only from the late 18th/early 19th century. The term Mother Goose rhymes is ...
" Old MacDonald Had a Farm" describes a farmer named MacDonald and the various animals he keeps, celebrating the noises they each make. Many urban children experience animal husbandry for the first time at a petting farm; in Britain, some five million people a year visit a farm of some kind. This presents some risk of
infection An infection is the invasion of tissue (biology), tissues by pathogens, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious agent and the toxins they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmiss ...
, especially if children handle animals and then fail to wash their hands; a strain of '' E. coli'' infected 93 people who had visited a British interactive farm in an outbreak in 2009. Historic farms such as those in the United States offer farmstays and "a carefully curated version of farming to those willing to pay for it", sometimes giving visitors a romanticised image of a
pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herding livestock around open areas of Landscape, land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasture. It lends its name to a genre of literature, art, and music (pastorale) t ...
idyll from an unspecified time in the pre-industrial past.


See also

*
Animal–industrial complex The term animal–industrial complex (AIC) refers to the systematic and institutionalized exploitation of animals. It includes every Human uses of animals, economic activity involving animals, such as the food industry (e.g., meat, dairy, poultry ...
*
Agribusiness Agribusiness is the Industry (economics), industry, Business, enterprises, and the field of study of Agribusiness value chain, value chains in agriculture and in the Bioeconomy, bio-economy, in which case it is also called bio-business or bio-ent ...
*
Animal science Animal science is described as "studying the biology of animals that are under the control of humankind". It can also be described as the production and management of farm animals. Historically, the degree was called animal husbandry and the ...
*
Fishery Fishery can mean either the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life; or more commonly, the site where such enterprise takes place ( a.k.a. fishing ground). Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and fish farms ...
* Food vs. feed *
Industrial agriculture Industrial agriculture is a form of modern agriculture, farming that refers to the Industrial society, industrialized production of Industrial agriculture (crops), crops and Industrial agriculture (animals), animals and animal products like eggs or ...
* Wildlife farming * Zootechnics


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* Saltini, Antonio. ''Storia delle scienze agrarie'', 4 vols, Bologna 1984–89, . * Clutton Brock, Juliet. ''The walking larder. Patterns of domestication, pastoralism and predation'', Unwin Hyman, London 1988. * Clutton Brock, Juliet. ''Horse power: a history of the horse and donkey in human societies'', National history Museum publications, London 1992. * Fleming, George; Guzzoni, M. ''Storia cronologica delle epizoozie dal 1409 av. Cristo sino al 1800'', in Gazzetta medico-veterinaria, I–II, Milano 1871–72. * Hall, S; Clutton Brock, Juliet. ''Two hundred years of British farm livestock'', Natural History Museum Publications, London 1988. * Janick, Jules; Noller, Carl H.; Rhyker, Charles L. ''The Cycles of Plant and Animal Nutrition'', in Food and Agriculture, Scientific American Books, San Francisco 1976. * Manger, Louis N. ''A History of the Life Sciences'', M. Dekker, New York, Basel 2002.


External links


Animal husbandry practices – National Animal Interest Alliance
{{Authority control Livestock