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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 Ecrins National Park (France) Gregge al pascolo.jpg
Sheep in Écrins National Park (France)

Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting in order to provide labour and produce diversified products for consumption such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. The term is sometimes used to refer solely to animals who are raised for consumption, and sometimes used to refer solely 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] The latter is likely due to the fact that fish products are not governed by the USDA, but by the FDA.


The breeding, maintenance, slaughter and general subjugation of livestock, called animal husbandry , is a part of modern agriculture and 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. It continues to play a major economic and cultural role in numerous communities.

Livestock farming practices have largely shifted to intensive animal farming. [4] Intensive animal farming increases the yield of the various commercial outputs, but also negatively impacts animal welfare, the environment, and public health. [5] In particular, beef, dairy and sheep are an outsized source of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.


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.

The word livestock was first used between 1650 and 1660, as a compound word combining the words "live" and "stock". [6] In some periods, "cattle" and "livestock" have been used interchangeably. Today,[ specify ] the modern meaning of cattle is domesticated bovines, while livestock has a wider sense. [7]

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". [8]

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. [9]


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 farmed animals are unsuited to life in the natural world.

Dogs were domesticated early; dogs appear in Europe and the Far East from about 15,000 years ago. [10] Goats and sheep were domesticated in multiple events sometime between 11,000 and 5,000 years ago in Southwest Asia. [11] Pigs were domesticated by 8,500 BC in the Near East [12] and 6,000 BC in China. [13] Domestication of horses dates to around 4,000 BC. [14] Cattle have been domesticated since approximately 10,500 years ago. [15] [ specify ] Chickens and other poultry may have been domesticated around 7,000 BC. [16]


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

Horse Tarpan MongoliaRiding, racing, carrying and pulling loads, meat, milk Nokota Horses cropped.jpg
Donkey African wild ass AfricaCarrying loads and draught Donkey in Clovelly, North Devon, England.jpg
Cattle Eurasian aurochs EurasiaMeat, milk and 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 animals, milk, meat and hide Bos grunniens - Syracuse Zoo.jpg
Water buffalo Wild water buffalo India and SE AsiaMeat, milk and carrying loads BUFFALO159.JPG
Gayal Gaur India and MalaysiaCarrying loads 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, racing, meat, milk and fur Chameau de bactriane.JPG
Arabian camel Thomas' camelNorth Africa and SW AsiaRiding, racing, meat and milk Dromadaire4478.jpg
Llama Guanaco AndesPack animals, meat, fleece Pack llamas posing near Muir Trail.jpg
Alpaca vicuña AndesMeat, fleece Corazon Full.jpg
Domestic Pig Wild boar EurasiaMeat Sow with piglet.jpg
Chicken red junglefowl Southeast AsiaMeat, egg Chicken.jpg
Rabbit European rabbit EuropeMeat, wool Napastakner.jpg
Guinea pig Montane guinea pig Andes Meat Arjuna.jpg


Micro-livestock is the term used for much-smaller animals, usually mammals. The two predominant 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 one-week-old kid Goat family.jpg
Goat family with one-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 their products, such as wool, eggs, milk and blood (by the Maasai) were harvested while the animal was still alive. [17]

In the traditional system of transhumance, humans 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. [18]

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. [19] 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. [20] 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. [21]

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. [17] At the other extreme, in the more Western 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; [22] pigs may be housed in climate-controlled buildings and never go outdoors; [23] 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. [24]


Livestock farmers have often dealt with natural world animals' predation and theft by rustlers. In North America, animals such as gray wolves, grizzly bears, cougars, and coyotes are sometimes considered a threat to livestock. In Eurasia and Africa, predators include wolves, leopards, tigers, lions, dholes, Asiatic black bears, crocodiles, spotted hyenas, and other carnivores. In South America, feral dogs, jaguars, anacondas, and spectacled bears are threats to livestock. In Australia, dingoes, foxes, and wedge-tailed eagles are common predators, with an additional threat from domestic dogs who may kill in response to a hunting instinct, leaving the carcass uneaten. [25] [26]


Good husbandry, proper feeding, and hygiene are the main contributors to animal health on farms, 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 the animals, they are required to follow the guidelines for treatment and to record the treatments given. [27]

Animals are susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions that may affect their health. Some, like classical swine fever [28] and scrapie [29] are specific to one population of animals, while others, like foot-and-mouth disease affect all cloven-hoofed animals. [30] Where the condition is serious, governments impose regulations on import and export, on the movement of livestock, 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 is now[ specify ] considered poor practice in many countries because of the risk that it may lead to antibiotic resistance. [31] Animals living under intensive conditions are particularly prone to internal and external parasites; increasing numbers of sea lice are affecting farmed salmon in Scotland. [32] Reducing the parasite burdens of livestock results in increased productivity and profitability. [33]

According to the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, livestock diseases are expected to get worse as climate change increases temperature and precipitation variability. [34]

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. [35]

Truck transport is now common in developed countries. [36]

Local and regional livestock auctions and specialized agricultural 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 some of its workers became infected with coronavirus disease 2019. [37] [38] 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. [38] 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 non-Western 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. [39]

In stock shows, farmers bring their best livestock to compete with one another. [40]


Biomass distribution of humans, livestock, and other animals Terrestrial biomass.jpg
Biomass distribution of humans, livestock, and other animals

Humans and livestock make up more than 90% of the biomass of all terrestrial vertebrates, and almost as much as all insects combined. [41]

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 883 billion dollars, (constant 2005–2006 dollars). [42] However, economic implications of livestock production extend further: to downstream industry (saleyards, abattoirs, butchers, milk processors, refrigerated transport, wholesalers, retailers, food services, tanneries, etc.), upstream industry (feed producers, feed transport, farm and ranch supply companies, equipment manufacturers, seed companies, vaccine manufacturers, etc.) and associated services (veterinarians, nutrition consultants, shearers, etc.).[ citation needed ]

Livestock provide a variety of food and non-food 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 non-Western 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. [43]

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 [44] and is an economic buffer (of income and 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, [45] which may reflect strategic maintenance of insurance in addition to a desire to retain productive assets. Even for some farmers in Western nations, livestock can serve as a kind of insurance. [46] 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. [47] [48]

Many studies have found evidence of the social, as well as economic, importance of livestock in non-Western countries and in regions of rural poverty, and such evidence is not confined to pastoral and nomadic societies. [44] [49] [50] [51]

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, US, 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." [52]

In the US, profit tends to rank low among motivations for involvement in livestock ranching. [53] 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". [54]

Environmental impact

Mean greenhouse gas emissions for different food types [55]
Food TypesGreenhouse Gas Emissions (g CO2-Ceq per g protein)
Ruminant Meat
Recirculating Aquaculture
Trawling Fishery
Non-recirculating Aquaculture
Non-trawling Fishery
Starchy Roots

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, [56] and livestock, and the production of feed for them, occupy about a third of Earth's ice-free land. [57] Livestock production is a contributing factor in species extinction, desertification, [58] and habitat destruction. [59] Meat is considered one of the prime factors contributing to the current sixth mass extinction. [60] [61] [62] [63] 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 (for example, animal husbandry is responsible for up to 91% of the deforestation in the Amazon region [64] ), while predators and herbivores are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The newest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that between the 1970s and 2000s agricultural emission increases were directly linked to an increase in livestock. The population growth of livestock (including cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats) is done with the intention of increasing animal production, but in turn increases emissions. [65]

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 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 [66] and in 2010. [67] Cattle produce some 79 million tons of methane per day. [68] [69] [70] Livestock enteric methane account 30% of the overall methane emissions of the planet. [68] [69] [70] Livestock are responsible for 34% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide, through feed production and manure. [68] [69] [70] Livestock offer significant potential for reducing GHG emissions. [68] [69] [70] Best production practices are estimated to be able to reduce livestock emissions by 30%. [68] [69] [70]

Impacts of climate change

Map of countries considered most and least vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change on their grazing livestock. Godber 2014 livestock impacts map.jpg
Map of countries considered most and least vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change on their grazing livestock.
Multi-faceted impacts of climate change on livestock. Lacetera 2018 climate livestock diagram.jpeg
Multi-faceted impacts of climate change on livestock.

There are numerous interlinked effects of climate change on livestock rearing. This activity is both heavily affected by and a substantial driver of anthropogenic climate change due to its greenhouse gas emissions. As of 2011, some 400 million people relied on livestock in some way to secure their livelihood. [73] :746 The commercial value of this sector is estimated as close to $1 trillion. [74] Climate change is already now (as of 2023) resulting in a range of adverse impacts on livestock production. These include reduced quantity or quality of animal feed, whether due to drought or as a secondary impact of CO2 fertilization effect. Animal parasites and vector-borne diseases are also spreading further than they had before, and the data indicating this is frequently of superior quality to one used to estimate impacts on the spread of human pathogens. [73]

As the global surface temperatures rise, there is a corresponding increase in overall heat stress in all but the coldest nations. This heat stress can be outright lethal at worst, with mass livestock mortality already observed during heatwaves, yet it also has a range of sublethal impacts – from lower quantity of quality of products like milk, to greater vulnerability to lameness or even impaired reproduction. With global warming continuing, difficulties with growing feed could reduce worldwide livestock headcounts by 7–10% by midcentury. [73] :748 While some areas which currently support livestock animals are expected to avoid "extreme heat stress" even with high warming at the end of the century, others may stop being suitable as early as midcentury. [73] :750

In general, sub-Saharan Africa is considered to be the most vulnerable region to food security shocks caused by the impacts of climate change on their livestock, as over 180 million people across those nations are expected to see significant declines in suitability of their rangelands around midcentury. [73] :748 On the other hand, Japan, the United States and nations in Europe are considered the least vulnerable. This is as much a product of pre-existing differences in human development index and other measures of national resilience and widely varying importance of pastoralism to the national diet as it is an outcome of direct impacts of climate on each country. [71]

Livestock produces the majority of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and demands around 30% of agricultural fresh water needs, while only supplying 18% of the global calorie intake. Animal-derived food plays a larger role in meeting human protein needs, yet is still a minority of supply at 39%, with crops providing the rest. [73] :746–747

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Agriculture</span> Cultivation of plants and animals to provide useful products

Agriculture encompasses crop and livestock production, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry for food and non-food products. 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. While humans started gathering grains at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers only began planting them around 11,500 years ago. Sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle were domesticated around 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. In the 20th century, industrial agriculture based on large-scale monocultures came to dominate agricultural output.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meat</span> Animal flesh eaten as food

Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted, farmed, and scavenged other animals for meat since prehistoric times. The establishment of settlements in the Neolithic Revolution allowed the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs, and cattle. This eventually led to their use in meat production on an industrial scale in slaughterhouses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beef</span> Meat from cattle

Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle. Beef can be prepared in various ways; cuts are often used for steak, which can be cooked to varying degrees of doneness, while trimmings are often ground or minced, as found in most hamburgers. Beef contains protein, iron, and vitamin B12. Along with other kinds of red meat, high consumption is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and coronary heart disease, especially when processed. Beef has a high environmental impact, being a primary driver of deforestation with the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any agricultural product.

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Farmer</span> Person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials

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 farmland or might work as a laborer on land owned by others. In most developed economies, a "farmer" is usually a farm owner (landowner), while employees of the farm are known as farm workers. However, in other older definitions a farmer was a person who promotes or improves the growth of plants, land, or crops or raises animals by labor and attention.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Animal husbandry</span> 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, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, management, production, nutrition, 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, predating 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fodder</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grazing</span> Feeding livestock on forage

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meat industry</span> People and companies engaged in industrialized livestock agriculture

The meat industry are the people and companies engaged in modern industrialized livestock agriculture for the production, packing, preservation and marketing of meat. In economics, the meat industry is a fusion of primary (agriculture) and secondary (industry) activity and hard to characterize strictly in terms of either one alone. The greater part of the meat industry is the meat packing industry – the segment that handles the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals such as poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental vegetarianism</span> Type of practice of vegetarianism

Environmental vegetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism that is motivated by the desire to create a sustainable diet, which avoids the negative environmental impact of meat production. Livestock as a whole is estimated to be responsible for around 15% 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Intensive animal farming</span> Branch of agriculture

Intensive animal farming, industrial livestock production, and macro-farms, also known 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 in the social long-run given its costs in resources. Analysts also raise issues about its ethics.

Mixed farming is a type of farming which involves both the growing of crops and the raising of livestock. Such agriculture occurs across Asia and in countries such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, South Africa, China, Central Europe, Canada, and Russia. Though at first it mainly served domestic consumption, countries such as the United States and Japan now use it for commercial purposes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Animal feed</span> 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 or keeping of 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Low-carbon diet</span> Diet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A low-carbon diet is any diet that results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing a low carbon diet is one facet of developing sustainable diets which increase the long-term sustainability of humanity. Major tenets of a low-carbon diet include eating a plant-based diet, and in particular little or no beef and dairy. Low-carbon diets differ around the world in taste, style, and the frequency they are eaten. Asian countries like India and China feature vegetarian and vegan meals as staples in their diets. In contrast, Europe and North America rely on animal products for their Western diets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental impacts of animal agriculture</span> Impact of farming animals on the environment

The environmental impacts of animal agriculture vary because of the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world. Despite this, all agricultural practices have been found to have a variety of effects on the environment to some extent. Animal agriculture, in particular meat production, can cause pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, disease, and significant consumption of land, food, and water. Meat is obtained through a variety of methods, including organic farming, free-range farming, intensive livestock production, and subsistence agriculture. The livestock sector also includes wool, egg and dairy production, the livestock used for tillage, and fish farming.

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 continue to raise concerns over environmental pollution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Insect farming</span> Raising and breeding insects as livestock

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Manure</span> Organic matter, mostly derived from animal feces, which can be used as fertilizer

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 fertility of soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are utilised by bacteria, fungi and other organisms in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture</span> Agricultures effects on climate change

The amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is significant: The agriculture, forestry and land use sector contribute between 13% and 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture contributes towards climate change through direct greenhouse gas emissions and by the conversion of non-agricultural land such as forests into agricultural land. Emissions of nitrous oxide and methane make up over half of total greenhouse gas emission from agriculture. Animal husbandry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.


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