Livestock

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Cattle on a pasture in Austria 20150728 xl P1000804 Leck mich Zaertlichkeit der Rinder.JPG
Cattle on a pasture in Austria
Sheep in the Parc National des Ecrins (France) Gregge al pascolo.jpg
Sheep in the Parc National des Ecrins (France)

Livestock is commonly defined as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labor and commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. The term is sometimes used to refer solely to those that are bred for consumption, while other times it refers only to farmed ruminants, such as cattle, sheep and goats. [1] Horses are considered livestock in the United States. [2] The USDA classifies pork, veal, beef, and lamb (mutton) as livestock and all livestock as red meat. Poultry and fish are not included in the category. [3]

Contents

The breeding, maintenance, and slaughter of livestock, known as animal husbandry, is a component of modern agriculture that has been practiced in many cultures since humanity's transition to farming from hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Animal husbandry practices have varied widely across cultures and time periods, and continues to play a major economic and cultural role in numerous communities.

Livestock farming practices have largely shifted to intensive animal farming, sometimes referred to as "factory farming"; over 99% of livestock in the US are now raised in this way. [4] Intensive animal farming increases the yield of the various commercial outputs, but has also led to negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment, and public health. [5] In particular, livestock, especially beef, dairy and sheep stocks, have out-sized influence on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Due to these negative impacts, but also for reasons of farming efficiency (see Food vs. feed), one projection argues there will be a large decline of livestock at least some animals (e.g. cattle) in certain countries by 2030, [6] [7] and the book The End of Animal Farming argues that all animal husbandry will end by 2100. [8]

Etymology

This Australian road sign uses the less common term "stock" for livestock. Give Way To Stock (6759026099).jpg
This Australian road sign uses the less common term "stock" for livestock.

Livestock as a word was first used between 1650 and 1660, as a compound word combining the words "live" and "stock". [9] In some periods, "cattle" and "livestock" have been used interchangeably. Today, the modern meaning of cattle is domesticated bovines, while livestock has a wider sense. [10]

United States federal legislation defines the term to make specified agricultural commodities eligible or ineligible for a program or activity. For example, the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999 (P.L. 106–78, Title IX) defines livestock only as cattle, swine, and sheep, while the 1988 disaster assistance legislation defined the term as "cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), equine animals used for food or in the production of food, fish used for food, and other animals designated by the Secretary." [11]

Deadstock is defined in contradistinction to livestock as "animals that have died before slaughter, sometimes from illness or disease". It is illegal in many countries, such as Canada, to sell or process meat from dead animals for human consumption. [12]

History

Animal-rearing originated during the cultural transition to settled farming communities from hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Animals are domesticated when their breeding and living conditions are controlled by humans. Over time, the collective behaviour, lifecycle and physiology of livestock have changed radically. Many modern farm animals are unsuited to life in the wild.

The dog was domesticated early; dogs appear in Europe and the Far East from about 15,000 years ago. [13] Goats and sheep were domesticated in multiple events sometime between 11,000 and 5,000 years ago in Southwest Asia. [14] Pigs were domesticated by 8,500 BC in the Near East [15] and 6,000 BC in China. [16] Domestication of the horse dates to around 4000 BC. [17] Cattle have been domesticated since approximately 10,500 years ago. [18] Chickens and other poultry may have been domesticated around 7000 BC. [19]

Types

The term "livestock" is nebulous and may be defined narrowly or broadly. Broadly, livestock refers to any breed or population of animal kept by humans for a useful, commercial purpose.

AnimalWild ancestorDomesticationUtilizationPicture
Horse Tarpan MongoliaRiding, racing, carrying and pulling loads, meat, milk Nokota Horses cropped.jpg
Donkey African wild ass AfricaBeast of burden and draught Donkey in Clovelly, North Devon, England.jpg
Cattle Eurasian aurochs EurasiaMeat, milk, draught Cow female black white.jpg
Zebu Indian aurochs EurasiaMilk, meat and draught. Gray Zebu Bull.jpg
Bali cattle Banteng SE AsiaMeat, milk and draught Balinese cow.JPG
Yak Wild yak TibetPack animal, milk, meat and hide Bos grunniens - Syracuse Zoo.jpg
Water buffalo Wild water buffalo India and SE AsiaMeat, milk and beast of burden BUFFALO159.JPG
Gayal Gaur India and MalaysiaBeast of burden and draught Mithun.jpg
Sheep Mouflon Iran and Asia MinorMeat, milk and fleece. Pair of Icelandic Sheep.jpg
Goat Bezoar ibex Greece and PakistanMeat, milk and fleece Capra, Crete 4.jpg
Reindeer Reindeer EurasiaDraught, milk, flesh and hide Caribou using antlers.jpg
Bactrian camel Wild Bactrian camel Central AsiaRiding and racing Chameau de bactriane.JPG
Arabian camel Thomas' camelNorth Africa and SW AsiaRiding and racing Dromadaire4478.jpg
Llama Guanaco AndesPack animal and fleece Pack llamas posing near Muir Trail.jpg
Alpaca Guanaco AndesFleece Corazon Full.jpg
Domestic Pig Wild boar EurasiaMeat Sow with piglet.jpg
Rabbit European rabbit EuropeMeat Napastakner.jpg
Guinea pig Montane guinea pig Andes Meat Arjuna.jpg

Micro-livestock

Micro-livestock is the term used for much smaller animals, usually mammals. The two predominate categories are rodents and lagomorphs (rabbits). Even smaller animals are kept and raised, such as crickets and honey bees. Micro-livestock does not generally include fish (aquaculture) or chickens (poultry farming).

Farming practices

Goat family with 1-week-old kid Goat family.jpg
Goat family with 1-week-old kid
Farrowing site in a natural cave in northern Spain Paridera Cueva del Rio Piedra.jpg
Farrowing site in a natural cave in northern Spain

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. [20] In the traditional system of transhumance, people and livestock moved seasonally between fixed summer and winter pastures; in montane regions the summer pasture was up in the mountains, the winter pasture in the valleys. [21]

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. Ranching in the Western United States involves large herds of cattle grazing widely over public and private lands. [22] 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, deer, ostrich, emu, llama and alpaca. [23] 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. [24]

In rural locations, pigs and poultry 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. [20] 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 feedlots; [25] pigs may be housed in climate-controlled buildings and never go outdoors; [26] 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 bought onto the farm from outside. [27]

Predation

Livestock farmers have suffered from wild animal predation and theft by rustlers. In North America, animals such as the gray wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, and coyote are sometimes considered a threat to livestock. In Eurasia and Africa, predators include the wolf, leopard, tiger, lion, dhole, Asiatic black bear, crocodile, spotted hyena, and other carnivores. In South America, feral dogs, jaguars, anacondas, and spectacled bears are threats to livestock. In Australia, the dingo, fox, and wedge-tailed eagle are common predators, with an additional threat from domestic dogs that may kill in response to a hunting instinct, leaving the carcass uneaten. [28] [29]

Disease

Good husbandry, proper feeding, and hygiene 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 medicines, by the farmer and the veterinarian. 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. [30]

Animals are susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions that may affect their health. Some, like classical swine fever [31] and scrapie [32] are specific to one type of stock, while others, like foot-and-mouth disease affect all cloven-hoofed animals. [33] Where the condition is serious, governments impose regulations on import and export, on the movement of stock, quarantine restrictions and the reporting of suspected cases. Vaccines 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 antibiotic resistance. [34] Animals living under intensive conditions are particularly prone to internal and external parasites; increasing numbers of sea lice are affecting farmed salmon in Scotland. [35] Reducing the parasite burdens of livestock results in increased productivity and profitability. [36]

According to the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, Livestock diseases are expected to get worse as climate change increase temperature and precipitation variability. [37]

Transportation and marketing

Pigs being loaded into their transport Animal transport 6.jpg
Pigs being loaded into their transport

Since many livestock are herd animals, they were historically driven to market "on the hoof" to a town or other central location. The method is still used in some parts of the world. [38]

Truck transport is now common in developed countries. [39]

Local and regional livestock auctions and commodity markets facilitate trade in livestock. In Canada at the Cargill slaughterhouse in High River, Alberta, 2,000 workers process 4,500 cattle per day, or more than one-third of Canada's capacity. It closed when the COVID-19 pandemic infected some of its workers. [40] [41] The Cargill plant together with the JBS plant in Brooks, Alberta and the Harmony Beef plant in Balzac, Alberta represent fully three-quarters of the Canadian beef supply. [41] In other areas, livestock may be bought and sold in a bazaar or wet market, such as may be found in many parts of Central Asia.

In developing countries, providing access to markets has encouraged farmers to invest in livestock, with the result being improved livelihoods. For example, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has worked in Zimbabwe to help farmers make their most of their livestock herds. [42]

In stock shows, farmers bring their best livestock to compete with one another. [43]

Environmental impact

Mean greenhouse gas emissions for different food types [44]
Food TypesGreenhouse Gas Emissions (g CO2-Ceq per g protein)
Ruminant Meat
62
Recirculating Aquaculture
30
Trawling Fishery
26
Non-recirculating Aquaculture
12
Pork
10
Poultry
10
Dairy
9.1
Non-trawling Fishery
8.6
Eggs
6.8
Starchy Roots
1.7
Wheat
1.2
Maize
1.2
Legumes
0.25

Animal husbandry has a significant impact on the world environment. It is responsible for somewhere between 20 and 33% of the fresh water usage in the world, [45] and livestock, and the production of feed for them, occupy about a third of the earth's ice-free land. [46] Livestock production is a contributing factor in species extinction, desertification, [47] and habitat destruction. [48] Meat is considered one of the prime factors contributing to the current sixth mass extinction. [49] [50] [51] [52] Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in various ways. 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. [53]

Livestock production requires large areas of land. Bezerros de IATF.jpg
Livestock production requires large areas of land.

In addition, livestock produce greenhouse gases. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has estimated that agriculture (including not only livestock, but also food crop, biofuel and other production) accounted for about 10 to 12 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (expressed as 100-year carbon dioxide equivalents) in 2005 [54] and in 2010. [55] Cows produce some 570 million cubic metres of methane per day, [56] that accounts for from 35 to 40% of the overall methane emissions of the planet. [57] Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of the powerful and long-lived greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. [57] As a result, ways of mitigating animal husbandry's environmental impact are being studied. Strategies include using biogas from manure. [58]


Economic and social benefits

Global distribution data for cattle, buffaloes, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and ducks in 2010. Livestock of the World (cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, ducks).jpg
Global distribution data for cattle, buffaloes, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and ducks in 2010.

The value of global livestock production in 2013 has been estimated at about 883 billion dollars, (constant 2005-2006 dollars). [59]

Livestock provide a variety of food and nonfood products; the latter include leather, wool, pharmaceuticals, bone products, industrial protein, and fats. For many abattoirs, very little animal biomass may be wasted at slaughter. Even intestinal contents removed at slaughter may be recovered for use as fertilizer. Livestock manure helps maintain the fertility of grazing lands. Manure is commonly collected from barns and feeding areas to fertilize cropland. In some places, animal manure is used as fuel, either directly (as in some developing countries), or indirectly (as a source of methane for heating or for generating electricity). In regions where machine power is limited, some classes of livestock are used as draft stock, not only for tillage and other on-farm use, but also for transport of people and goods. In 1997, livestock provided energy for between an estimated 25 and 64% of cultivation energy in the world's irrigated systems, and that 300 million draft animals were used globally in small-scale agriculture. [60]

Although livestock production serves as a source of income, it can provide additional economic values for rural families, often serving as a major contributor to food security and economic security. Livestock can serve as insurance against risk [61] and is an economic buffer (of income and/or food supply) in some regions and some economies (e.g., during some African droughts). However, its use as a buffer may sometimes be limited where alternatives are present, [62] which may reflect strategic maintenance of insurance in addition to a desire to retain productive assets. Even for some livestock owners in developed nations, livestock can serve as a kind of insurance. [63] Some crop growers may produce livestock as a strategy for diversification of their income sources, to reduce risks related to weather, markets and other factors. [64] [65]

Many studies[ which? ] have found evidence of the social, as well as economic, importance of livestock in developing countries and in regions of rural poverty, and such evidence is not confined to pastoral and nomadic societies. [61] [66] [67] [68] [69]

Social values in developed countries can also be considerable. For example, in a study of livestock ranching permitted on national forest land in New Mexico, USA, it was concluded that "ranching maintains traditional values and connects families to ancestral lands and cultural heritage", and that a "sense of place, attachment to land, and the value of preserving open space were common themes". "The importance of land and animals as means of maintaining culture and way of life figured repeatedly in permittee responses, as did the subjects of responsibility and respect for land, animals, family, and community." [70]

In the US, profit tends to rank low among motivations for involvement in livestock ranching. [71] Instead, family, tradition and a desired way of life tend to be major motivators for ranch purchase, and ranchers "historically have been willing to accept low returns from livestock production." [72]

See also

Related Research Articles

Agriculture Cultivation of plants and animals to provide useful products

Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep, and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:

Farmer Person that works in agriculture

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 might own the farmed land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others, but in advanced economies, a farmer is usually a farm owner, while employees of the farm are known as farm workers, or farmhands. However, in the not so distant past, a farmer was a person who promotes or improves the growth of by labor and attention, land or crops or raises animals.

Farm Area of land for farming, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures

A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name is used for specialized units such as arable farms, vegetable farms, fruit farms, dairy, pig and poultry farms, and land used for the production of natural fibres, biofuel and other commodities. It includes ranches, feedlots, orchards, plantations and estates, smallholdings and hobby farms, and includes the farmhouse and agricultural buildings as well as the land. In modern times the term has been extended so as to include such industrial operations as wind farms and fish farms, both of which can operate on land or sea.

Intensive farming Type of agriculture using high inputs to try to get high outputs

Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming and industrial agriculture, is a type of agriculture, both of crop plants and of animals, with higher levels of input and output per unit

agricultural land area. It is characterized by a low fallow ratio, higher use of inputs such as capital and labour, and higher crop yields per unit land area.
Animal husbandry Management, selective breeding, and care of farm animals by humans

Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long history, starting with the Neolithic revolution when animals were first domesticated, from around 13,000 BC onwards, antedating farming of the first crops. By the time of early civilisations such as ancient Egypt, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were being raised on farms.

Fodder Agricultural foodstuff used to feed domesticated animals

Fodder, also called provender, is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock, such as cattle, rabbits, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. "Fodder" refers particularly to food given to the animals, rather than that which they forage for themselves. Fodder includes hay, straw, silage, compressed and pelleted feeds, oils and mixed rations, and sprouted grains and legumes. Most animal feed is from plants, but some manufacturers add ingredients to processed feeds that are of animal origin.

In agriculture, grazing is a method of animal husbandry whereby domestic livestock are allowed outdoors to consume wild vegetations in order to convert grass and other forages into meat, milk, wool and other animal products, often on land unsuitable for arable farming.

Pastoralism Branch of agriculture concerned with raising livestock

Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The species involved include cattle, camels, goats, yaks, llamas, reindeer, horse and sheep.

Environmental vegetarianism

Environmental vegetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism when motivated by the desire to create a sustainable diet that avoids the negative environmental impact of meat production. Livestock as a whole is estimated to be responsible for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, significant reduction in meat consumption has been advocated by, among others, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 2019 special report and as part of the 2017 World Scientists' Warning to Humanity.

Pastoral farming Method for producing livestock

Pastoral farming is aimed at producing livestock, rather than growing crops. Examples include dairy farming, raising beef cattle, and raising sheep for wool. In contrast, arable farming concentrates on crops rather than livestock. Finally, mixed farming incorporates livestock and crops on a single farm. Some mixed farmers grow crops purely as fodder for their livestock; some crop farmers grow fodder and sell it. In some cases pastoral farmers are known as graziers, and in some cases pastoralists. Pastoral farming is a non-nomadic form of pastoralism in which the livestock farmer has some form of ownership of the land used, giving the farmer more economic incentive to improve the land. Unlike other pastoral systems, pastoral farmers are sedentary and do not change locations in search for fresh resources. Rather, pastoral farmers adjust their pastures to fit the needs of their animals. Improvements include drainage, stock tanks, irrigation and sowing clover.

Agriculture in Saskatchewan

Agriculture in Saskatchewan is the production of various food, feed, or fiber commodities to fulfill domestic and international human and animal sustenance needs. The newest agricultural economy to be developed in renewable biofuel production or agricultural biomass which is marketed as ethanol or biodiesel. Plant cultivation and livestock production have abandoned subsistence agricultural practices in favor of intensive technological farming resulting in cash crops which contribute to the economy of Saskatchewan. The particular commodity produced is dependent upon its particular biogeography or ecozone of Geography of Saskatchewan. Agricultural techniques and activities have evolved over the years. The first nation nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and the early immigrant ox and plow farmer proving up on his quarter section of land in no way resemble the present farmer operating huge amounts of land or livestock with their attendant technological mechanization. Challenges to the future of Saskatchewan agriculture include developing sustainable water management strategies for a cyclical drought prone climate in south western Saskatchewan, updating dryland farming techniques, stabilizing organic definitions or protocols and the decision to grow, or not to grow genetically modified foods. Domestically and internationally, some commodities have faced increased scrutiny from disease and the ensuing marketing issues.

Intensive animal farming Type of animal husbandry using high inputs and stocking densities to increase production

Intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production, also known by its opponents as factory farming, is a type of intensive agriculture, specifically an approach to animal husbandry designed to maximize production, while minimizing costs. To achieve this, agribusinesses keep livestock such as cattle, poultry, and fish at high stocking densities, at large scale, and using modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. There are issues regarding whether intensive animal farming is sustainable or ethical.

Animal feed Food for various animals

Animal feed is food given to domestic animals, especially livestock, in the course of animal husbandry. There are two basic types: fodder and forage. Used alone, the word feed more often refers to fodder. Animal feed is an important input to animal agriculture, and is frequently the main cost of the raising animals. Farms typically try to reduce cost for this food, by growing their own, grazing animals, or supplementing expensive feeds with substitutes, such as food waste like spent grain from beer brewing.

A low-carbon diet refers to making lifestyle choices related to food consumption to reduce resulting greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe). Choosing a low carbon diet is one facet of developing sustainable diets which increase the long-term sustainability of humanity.

The environmental impact of meat production varies because of the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world. All agricultural practices have been found to have a variety of effects on the environment. Some of the environmental effects that have been associated with meat production are pollution through fossil fuel usage, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption. Meat is obtained through a variety of methods, including organic farming, free range farming, intensive livestock production, subsistence agriculture, hunting, and fishing.

Environmental impact of agriculture

The environmental impact of agriculture is the effect that different farming practices have on the ecosystems around them, and how those effects can be traced back to those practices. The environmental impact of agriculture varies widely based on practices employed by farmers and by the scale of practice. Farming communities that try to reduce environmental impacts through modifying their practices will adopt sustainable agriculture practices. The negative impact of agriculture is an old issue that remains a concern even as experts design innovative means to reduce destruction and enhance eco-efficiency. Though some pastoralism is environmentally positive, modern animal agriculture practices tend to be more environmentally destructive than agricultural practices focused on fruits, vegetables and other biomass. The emissions of ammonia from cattle waste continues to raise concerns over environmental pollution.

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, or for them themselves; to be used as food, as feed, as a dye, and otherwise.

The business of livestock farming is prominent in the Basque Country (Spain). The climate of this region is ideal for raising cattle and other livestock and is classified as Atlantic, or warm and rainy. The most common breeds of livestock raised in this region include beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, and horses. These animals are most often raised in mixed farms, or farms that contain a combination of these types of animals and not just one type exclusively. Although the number of livestock farms notably decreased between the years of 1999 and 2009, the number of animals raised on each remaining farm increased dramatically, as discussed in further detail below. In 2006, there were estimated to be about 19,000 Basque farms that involved the raising of livestock.

This glossary of agriculture is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in agriculture, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other glossaries relevant to agricultural science, see Glossary of biology, Glossary of ecology, Glossary of environmental science, and Glossary of botany.

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