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Animal Husbandry

Aug 29, 2022
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Key Concepts:

  • Animal husbandry
  • Selective breeding
  • Artificial insemination
  • Embryo transfer
  • Types of animal husbandry
  • Dairy farming
  • Poultry farming
  • Pisciculture
  • Apiculture

Introduction:

Farmers rear animals such as cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, etc., in order to obtain dairy, poultry, meat, and wool. Rearing of such animals is often known as animal husbandry. 

Explanation: 

Animal husbandry: 

Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture that deals with the breeding, feeding, and caring of domesticated animals. It is a practice used to increase livestock production of animal products. 

Animal husbandry is the management and care of animals in which the genetic characteristics and behaviour of animals are improved for profit. A large number of farmers make their living from animal husbandry. 

In animal husbandry, animals such as chicken, duck, ox, goat, pigs, etc., are bred for meat. Apart from domestic animals, marine animals serve as an alternative source of nutrients. Seafood has sources of a variety of nutrients like fat, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. 

Animal products

Animal care, breeding, management, and so on are closely monitored by the department of animal husbandry. It is a large-scale enterprise. Animal husbandry includes poultry, milk farms, apiculture (bee agriculture), aquaculture, and other related activities. 

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History of animal husbandry: 

Animal husbandry was initiated with the domestication of wild animals in the prehistoric period. These animals included sheep and goats and were reared first in Northern Iraq. 

Selective breeding of artificial selection is practiced in animal husbandry to obtain breeds that increase production and are of higher value. Advances are also being made in animal nutrition and medicine. Practices like artificial insemination and embryo transfer have made animal husbandry more advanced in terms of modern technology. 

Selective breeding: 

Selective breeding is the process by which animal and plant breeders produce organisms with the traits they desire. It is a form of artificial selection as the breeders choose the desired traits to produce alterations in a species over a few generations. 

Humans have bred many organisms for their own benefit and produced crops with better yields, ornamental plants with specific shapes and colors, and farm animals that produce more, better quality meat or wool. 

For example, dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny Chihuahuas to huge Great Danes. There are Labrador retrievers with short coats as well as poodles with curly hair. We can see wolfhounds with long noses and bulldogs with short noses.  

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Evolution of dog breeds 

The differences between dog breeds are so huge that someone might think they are different species. They’re not, of course, but where did these big differences come from? 

Breeders use selective breeding techniques so that only those animals with desired characteristics produce the next generation. In the case of dogs, humans make animals that are better hunters, better retrievers, or better companions. 

Selective breeding is used to make fruits and vegetables tastier, crops having greater resistance to pests, and larger animals that can be utilized for meat. 

The term “artificial selection” was introduced by Charles Darwin, but the practice of selective breeding predates Darwin for thousands of years. 

Agricultural practices have involved selective breeding for several years. Almost all fruits and vegetables eaten today are a product of artificial selection. 

Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale are all vegetables derived from the same plant, Brassica oleracea, also known as wild cabbage. By isolating the wild cabbage plants with specific characteristics, farmers were able to produce a variety of vegetables from a single source, each with distinct flavors and textures. 

Broccoli, for example, was bred from wild cabbage plants with larger flower development, whereas kale was bred from Brassica oleracea with larger leaves. 

Selective breeding in wild cabbage 

Artificial insemination: 

Artificial insemination is the practice of collecting sperm cells from a male animal and manually depositing them into a female’s reproductive tract. It is used instead of natural mating for reproduction purposes, and its main goal is to pass on the desirable characteristics of a bull or other male livestock animal rapidly and to more progeny compared to when the animal is mated, with females in a natural fashion. 

The process of artificial selection involves the following steps: 

  1. The semen of a healthy and strong animal of high milk yielding breed is collected. 
  2. It is preserved by freezing or chemical techniques. 
  3. The preserved sperm is then injected into the female animal’s genital tract. 
  4. The preserved semen is injected during the fertility period. 
Artificial insemination of cows 

Advantages of artificial insemination: 

  1. The number of calves per bull is increased as the semen is divided for multiple purposes. 
  2. It prevents the spread of contagious diseases and sterility due to genital diseases. 
  3. Through animal insemination, it is possible to use the semen of the desired even after its death.  
  4. Artificial insemination helps remove geographical barriers and reduces the cost of maintenance. 

Embryo transfer: 

Embryo transfer technology is a technique that collects embryos from an elite donor female and transfers them to recipient females who act as surrogate mothers for the remainder of the pregnancy. 

It is one of the most significant techniques in reproductive biotechnology where male and female genetic material can be used for the faster improvement of livestock. Embryos of indigenous bovines with higher genetic merit can be transferred into surrogate cows. It is a revolutionary breeding strategy that has accelerated cattle genetic improvement. Embryo transfer technology is a technique by which embryos are collected from an elite donor female and transferred to recipient females that act as surrogate mothers for the rest of the pregnancy. 

Embryo transfer procedure 

Advantages of embryo transfer: 

  1. It increases the number of offspring per female. 
  2. The exchange of genetic material between countries becomes easier and more rapid. 
  3. It involves less transport of live animals, thereby reducing risks of disease transmission 
  4. It is an excellent tool for rapidly improving genetics and increasing milk production while improving disease control and enhancing the health of dairy herds. 

Types of animal husbandry: 

Dairy farming: 

Dairy farming involves taking care of cattle like cows, buffaloes, goats, and sheep for the production of milk or agricultural activities like irrigation, plowing, etc.  

The animals are protected against diseases and are managed by mostly farmers to increase their income. The animals which provide milk are called milch animals. The animals are milked by hand or by machines.  

It is an agricultural technique concerned with the long-term production of milk, which is then processed in order to produce dairy products such as curd, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, etc. We also get meat from some cattle. Animals in these farms are provided with shelter, healthy food, health check-up by doctors, etc. 

Dairy products 

Poultry farming: 

The term ‘poultry’ refers to the rearing and breeding of domesticated birds for food (meat) or their eggs. Birds like ducks, pigeons, chickens, geese, turkeys, etc., are domesticated for eggs and meat. 

Poultry birds that are reared for meat are called broilers, while the female birds raised for egg production are called layers. Poultry farming involves taking care of the animals and maintaining them in a disease-free environment to obtain healthy food from them. Sanitation and hygienic conditions must be maintained on a poultry farm. The feces of birds are used as manure to improve soil fertility. 

Eggs and meat serve as a rich source of protein. Poultry farming provides employment to a large population and helps in improving the economy of the farmers. 

Pisciculture: 

Fish farming or pisciculture is the process where fish are raised in closed tanks or ponds for commercial uses. The demand for fish and fish protein is constantly increasing. Fish species like salmon, catfish, cod, and tilapia are raised in fish farms. 

Fish farming can be practiced in two ways, natural resources and artificial farming. Natural resources like the sea, lakes, rivers, etc., provide a wide range of fisheries. It is a practice used to increase livestock production of animal products. 

Fishes raised on fish farm 

Bee farming: 

Bee farming or apiculture involves the maintenance of bee colonies by humans in man-made hives. Apiculture is performed on a large scale. The bees are reared for honey, wax, and to pollinate flowers.  

The place where bees are cultured is known as an apiary or a bee yard.

Summary

  • Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture that deals with the breeding, feeding, and
    caring of domesticated animals.
  • Ahuge number of farmers depend upon animal husbandry for their livelihood.
  • In animal husbandry, animals such as chickens, ducks, ox, goats, pigs, etc, are bred for
    meat. Marine animals also serve as an alternative source of nutrients like fat, proteins,
    vitamins, and minerals.
  • Itis a large-scale business and involves poultry, milk farms, apiculture (bee agriculture),
    aquaculture, ete.
  • Selective breeding is practiced in animal husbandry to obtain breeds that increase
    production and are of higher value.
  • Practices like artificial insemination and embryo transfer have made animal husbandry
    more advanced in terms of modern technology.
  • Dairy farming involves taking care of cattle like cows, buffaloes, goats, and sheep for the
    production of milk or agricultural activities like irrigation, plowing, etc.
  • Poultry farming involves taking care of the animals and maintaining them in a disease-
    free environment to obtain healthy food from them.
  • Fish farming or pisciculture is the process of raising fish in closed tanks or ponds for
    commercial purposes.
  • Bee farming or apiculture involves the maintenance of bee colonies by humans in man-
    made hives.

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