Animal Husbandry  

Hunger and food crisis top the list of problems faced by the people globally. Around 60% of the children are suffering from the food crisis either due to the non-availability of food or the poor nutrients in the available food. Though food shortage is closely connected with many factors, poor and unscientific farming practices seems to be the real culprits. To tackle the prevailing shortage of food, a variety of techniques are being used by the farmers from time to time. Some of them are poultry, tissue culture,  hybrid plant breeding techniques, production of single-cell proteins, and animal husbandry

What is Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry is the branch of science deal with the scientific practices of breeding cows, goats, sheep etc. More precisely, it is the scientific method of selective breeding and livestock raising with the help of the principles of genetics and biotechnology. The branches of animal husbandry include dairy farming, poultry farming, aquaculture, sericulture, apiculture or beekeeping etc,. The 2 most common branches of animal husbandry that Indian economy relies on include dairy farming and poultry farming.

 

Indian scenario

In India, agriculture and poultry are very much in demand because 65% of the total population relies on farming and its related domains. About 70% of the world`s livestock is raised by India and China alone. The most commonly practised animal husbandry activities in India are the production, processing, and distribution of products: milk, meat, fish, eggs, wool, and hides. Animal husbandry is both science and art, the discipline requires knowledge and experience about breed selection, feeding, and medical care of the cattle. Government of India has been lending several loans and skill training facilities under various schemes to expand the domain, however,  a lot of gaps exist in this area as many of our farmers are accustomed to the old way of stock raising.  Though our country is well known for its massive contribution to the world`s farm produce, our productivity per unit is surprisingly low when compared to many developed countries. Agriculture research has clearly correlated this slowness with the application of outdated and conventional breeding practices.

Animal farm management

The Basic Principle

A successful farming technique requires the assimilation of both scientific and traditional principles of farm management. Farmers must be insisted to adopt a technique that yields both quality and the quantity at lesser cost and possibly in a shorter duration.

Dairy Products

Dairy farming is one of the most profitable occupations when practised scientifically. The most common dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, ghee and cheese are produced both on a large scale and at a domestic scale. Dairy farming requires skills that are not just necessary for rearing cattle, but also to treat their illnesses. In addition, the industrial level production requires scientific facilities to pasteurize, process, store and transport the products in a safe and quick manner.

Choosing A Right Breed 

To make the business profitable:

  1. Choose the best breeds that produce a reasonable yield.

  2. Go for some well-known breeds like Holstein-Friesian, Norwegian red cattle, jersey etc.

  3. In addition to the productivity of the yields, it is also essential to choose a breed that can resist harsh climatic conditions and many seasonal diseases.

  4. Every effort should aim at retaining the purity of the breeds failing to do so can cost a lot to mankind in the long run.

Tips for cattle care

  1. To obtain a better quality and quantity of desired dairy products, cows must be reared in a clean, hygienic and safe breeding homes. Exclude the places that cause stagnation of the dung as they can attract mosquitoes and flies that gives room for many diseases.

  2. The water source must be adequate and is tested for its cleanliness and safety.

  3. Use some great feeds balanced with a variety of mixtures such as the natural grass, hay, and leaves. Exercise diligence while choosing artificial feeds. Consult a vet to understand and prepare the scientific feeding formulae which emphasize both the quality and quantity.

  4. The cattle handlers must always maintain proper personal hygiene and hand hygiene before milking .

  5. A  regular vigilance by a veterinary doctor to vaccinate each cattle is mandatory as it can help to prevent the spread of many communicable diseases. 

  6.  Exercise great caution while exposing the cattle to sunlight. 

Poultry farming

Poultry farming is a derivative of animal husbandry. It helps to raise the domesticated birds like chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. The main objective of poultry farming is to produce meat or eggs for food. The most common poultry bird raised in India is chickens.

Common issues affecting poultry  

Poultry birds are vulnerable to various disease conditions including some bird flu and infections. It is the duty of a caretaker to ensure the purity of breeds apart from the fact that it also guarantees a solid resistance against frequently encountered poultry infections. A poultry manager must be aware of several factors influencing the quality and quantity of yield. In addition, he should be knowledgeable about managing: the predators, nutritional deficiencies, poor air quality, surprising variation in the atmospheric temperature and physical stressors in the breeding areas. A qualified caretaker can act as a keen observer of vermins, insects, rodents and darkling beetles. Moreover, he must be responsible to provide the birds: a safe environment, healthy feeding, clean water and timely vaccination. Regular examination of the birds for seasonal flue and vaccinating them can make a difference in the quality and quantity of yield. 

Animal Breeding techniques

Animal breeding is an important aspect of animal husbandry. A breed is a group of animals related by common descent possessing similar features such as height, colour, skin type, fur, body configuration, etc. Scientific breeding can result in a superior progeny that can survive for long. Animal breeding techniques work on the principles of genetics-Mendelian laws. The four common animal breeding techniques are inbreeding, outbreeding, cross-breeding, and interspecific hybridization.

Inbreeding

Wen the mating occurs between more closely related individuals belonging to the same breed from the past 4-6 generations is called inbreeding. Before inbreeding, it is essential to prepare the objectives at the earliest. The aim of the technique is to ensure the fertilization of the most superior male with the finest quality female. Before crossing, the breeds must be checked for purity and the fitness and exclude the ones that do not fit. The term superior breed is used when the crossing varieties outperform the others in many aspects including yield, quality of meat and milk. Inbreeding technique assures purity as it doesn't involve crossing between the 2 unknown and farther breeds. As a result, chances of contamination with the undesirable gene pairs are too low. But, a prolonged inbreeding can result in breed depression, a condition that results in poor productivity. Inbreeding may not assure results when repeated crossings are carried out for more than 5 times. If the breed depression is suspected, it is best to switch to the outbreeding.

Out-breeding

A good outbreeding practice results in a highly diverse and the most productive progeny. An out-breeding is performed by crossing between the 2 unrelated animals from 2 distant breeds and is almost similar to cross-breeding. Although it is effective, breed depression can result in poor survival and fitness rates of the progeny in the long run.

Out-crossing

Out-crossing is a variant of outbreeding. Unlike out-breeding, mating is performed between the 2 animals within the same breed but they do not share the common ancestry at least from the past -6 generations. Progeny produced by this breeding is called an out-cross. Out-crossing is prefered when the breeds start yielding the below average results over time.

Cross-breeding

It is also known as the designer crossbreeding in which neither of the parents has undergone crossing. The parents are entirely from 2 distant families resulting in offsprings that share the characteristics from both lineages. The main aim of crossbreeding is to maintain the health and viability of organisms. However, a negligible error made during mating can lead to the inferior quality of the breed. The resulting offspring of a crossbred animal is called a hybrid which can be once again crossed with the help of inbreeding technique for better yield. 

Interspecific hybridization

Interspecific hybridization is the process through which mating is done between  2 different species. For example- mule is obtained by crossing the donkey and a horse. The resulting progeny is the combination of desirable features of both the parents which can ensure a considerable economic value. Another example of Interspecific hybridization is the birth of Liger by mating between a male lion and a female tiger while crossing between zebra and donkey produces a new breed -zonkey. 

The methodology used in Interspecific hybridization

For better results, controlled breeding is carried out with the help of the artificial insemination technique. To carry out this, healthy semen must be extracted and preserved safely. The collected semen is then injected into the reproductive tract of the selected female. Followed by this, the crossed animal must be supervised to check the status of artificial insemination by confirming its pregnancy. As the success rate of the regular mode of crossing is fairly low, Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer Technology (MOET) is used. It is a popular programme practised in many countries for herd improvement. During MOET, a cow is administered with FSH, a hormonal therapy that can intensify ovulation. Such cow can produce 6-8 eggs in place of the single egg which assures greater chances of fertilization.  These eggs can be artificially inseminated and transferred them into the surrogate's uterus non- surgically. High milk- yielding breeds of females and high quality (lean meat with less lipid) meat-yielding bulls have been bred successfully through this method.

 

Read More

  1. Animal Kingdom       

  2. Structure and functions of the cell  

  3. Mendel`s experiments       

  4. Transgenic animals           

 

Check your understanding 

  1. What is inbreeding?

  2. What is animal husbandry? Enumerate its branches.

  3. What is the main principle of breed selection in animal husbandry?

  4. How to choose the right breed in animal husbandry?

  5. Differentiate between outbreeding and outcrossing.

  6. Write any 4 tips to manage cattle effectively.

  7. What is inbreeding? How it differs from other techniques?

  8. What is inter-specific hybridisation? Explain.

  9. What is multiple ovulation embryo transfer?

  10. What is Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer Technology?

 

 



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