Livestock farming is the rearing of animals for food and for other human uses. The word 'Livestock' applies primarily to cattle or dairy cows, chickens, goats, pigs, horses and sheep. Today, even animals like donkeys, mules, rabbits and insects such as bees are being raised as part of livestock farming.
The usefulness of livestock organs in medicines like insulin has been understood only recently. Nevertheless, livestock farms have been benefiting us in many ways for ages - they provide us with eggs, honey, meat, milk, etc. The skins or hides and even hair of these animals have been used to make blankets, clothing, shoes and the like. The hoofs and horns of these farm animals have been used to make common items like buttons and combs. You cannot ignore the specialty item, the bullhorn showpiece in your drawing room. Even the animal-wastes do not go waste - they make excellent natural fertilizers!
Present-day livestock farming is very well planned - animals are provided with food and shelter and bred selectively. As regards shelter, animals are usually kept in enclosures. Pigs and poultry are reared intensively in indoor environments. However, indoor animal farming has often been criticized for multiple reasons - on grounds of pollution and for animal welfare reasons. Outdoor farming of livestock stands for rearing animals in bigger enclosures like ranches and fenced pastures.
When it comes to feeds, farm animals are allowed to graze; additionally, they are given nutritious processed feed to aid normal growth and production.
The recent breeding practices that have altogether changed the scenario are:
- Selective Breeding: mating the best males and females, both related or unrelated
- Artificial Insemination: artificially impregnating a female animal with semen from a superior-quality male
- Embryo Transfer Techniques: where a genetically enhanced fertilized egg is transferred from the reproductive tract of a special breed cow into the reproductive tract of a second cow
Consequently, we now have excellent breeds of farm animals that yield more and the produce-quality too is superior.
There have been huge improvements in livestock farming in the recent past, with each of them being more scientific aiding in improvement of animal health and increased yield.
Livestock farming is a double-benefiting system - it helps the farmers both economically and supplies them with food throughout the year. However, the above benefits do surely rest upon a two faced criterion - the development must proceed scientifically, and protection and care should be first on the farmer's list.