Saturday, July 20, 2024
General Agriculture

Definition and Concept of Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock. The feeding, breeding, housing and health care of livestock are some of the major concerns of animal husbandry.

Some of the advantages of animal husbandry are the developing of high yielding breeds of various domestic animals through cross breeding, production of food products like milk, eggs and meat and the provision of income among others.

Ranches are either small or big in size and this is based on the land area used for the ranching. Ranch profitability can be assured through ensuring good ranch size, maintaining a good ratio of cattle per worker, increasing the carrying capacity of the ranch, maintaining a low debt to equity ratio, cutting down of overhead cost and ensuring good marketing strategy to disposing of products.

However, management strategies could be improved through maintaining vegetative cover, avoiding overgrazing, selecting cattle with efficient performance and reducing wastewater.

Definition and Concept of Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock (Ranch. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

The Report stressed that Animal husbandry deals with the feeding, breeding, housing and health care of livestock for getting maximum benefits.

The main types of animals kept under animal husbandry are domestic animals. The practice of animal husbandry takes into consideration animal domestication and improvement of the animals through cross breeding high yielding breeds with a view to get well developed animals that would also make available to man various animal products like eggs from poultry, milk from dairy products, meat from beef, wool, button and other industrial material from the animals that produce them.

Advantages of Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry helps us in developing high yielding breeds of various domestic animals through cross breeding.

Animal husbandry increases the availability of various food products such as milk, eggs and meat, which are obtained from domestic animals.

People practice animal husbandry for economical purpose like provision of income.

Animal husbandry helps in proper management of the domestic animals. This could be in terms of providing proper feed, proper shelter and protection against diseases to the domestic animals.

Thus, animal husbandry increases the availability of various food products such as milk, eggs and meat, which are obtained from domestic animals.

Animal husbandry helps in raising the living standard of farmers. As a result of higher production of animal products, the income of farmers increases.

Animal husbandry helps in systematic disposal of animal wastes. Thus, it helps in maintaining healthy environment.

Animal husbandry also helps in producing animals that meet the farmers desire. This is achieved through research.

Considerations of What Makes a Ranch

This has to do with how many acres can be considered as a ranch. A write up of „How many acres is considered a ranch‟ noted that in considering an area as a ranch, we must establish that some ranches are small, medium while others are big ranches.

There are significant economies of size in ranching.

A small ranch might be as small as a hundred acres, and specialize in training or breeding stock. However, small ranches run by people with off-farm jobs can be very profitable if they keep it simple, and keep overhead low.

On the other hand, unless there are sources of income besides cattle, small ranches struggle to be profitable and sustain a good standard of living.

A middle sized to big one can be ten thousand acres or more, with a few a hundred thousand acres or more. Sometimes these so called ranches operate on government owned land or privately owned land.

These sizes of ranch actually make good income (due to large size) from their production. In case of disease outbreak, the disaster is usually tremendous leading to much loses.

Small holder Dairy System

Smallholder dairy systems may be characterized as mixed systems whose principal output is milk for sale. In smallholder dairy system, there is the integration of livestock production along line with the growing of subsistence crops.

The subsistence crops include, maize, beans and potatoes, and of cash crops, including coffee, tea and pyrethrum. Besides engaging in crop farming and keeping other livestock, smallholder dairy farmers also typically keep two or three dairy cows with their offspring.

In most small ranches, the herds are composed of 80 percent female cattle and 20 percent male (mainly young males).

Breeding bulls are not important in this system and represent less than 1 percent of the total herd. In where ranching system is concerned, land ownership is private rather than communal and livestock management varies from family to family, with some families keeping grade cattle under improved management regimes involving stall feeding, use of concentrates and disease control

Keys to Ranch Profitability

Due to the current trend of price hike in goods and services, the prices of fuel and equipment have risen significantly faster over time than the market value of cattle.

In a bid to reduce the cost of production of cattle in line with meeting up with some level of profitability in the cattle business (ranching), there is a need for an adjustment of some key production factors. It is hoped that such adjustment will go a long way in ensuring a profit driven business.

Teichert (2013) established that some of the key factors the ranchers need to pay attention to in order to balance the trend of ensuring a profitable venture are;

Ranch size: There are significant economies of size in ranching. For the business of ranching to be profitable, the size of the ranch should be large enough to accommodate as many cattle as possible. This should be like a hundred thousand acres or more.

Where the ranch is small, then the rancher should have other sources of income besides cattle, small ranches struggle to be profitable and sustain a good standard of living.

However, small ranches run by people with off-farm jobs can be very profitable if they keep it simple, and keep overhead low. In fact, they can compete very well with medium-sized where the operators only work on the ranch.

Cowsper worker: This has to do with the number of cows that should be cared for by a worker. Better put, it is the ratio of cow per worker. As much as possible, the ratio should be as wide as can be managed.

Many ranches have more costs that align with the number of workers than with the number of cows. The number of cattle per worker should be between 800 -1,200 cattle to a worker.

That keeps labor, housing, equipment and horse cost per cow quite low.

Maintaining such ratio will ensure a good level of profitability.

Acres per cow: Acres per cow talks about the carrying capacity of the ranch. It’s usually much less expensive to increase carrying capacity by developing stock water, adding fence and managing grazing than by purchasing more land.

As you add cows, you don’t have to add people or other overhead. In so doing, the cows are increased while the manpower remains the same, thereby increasing the profitability of the ranch.

Fed feed versus grazed feed: Cattle’s are fed with industrial feeds and pasture from grazed fields. It’s been observed that feeding the ranch with pasture is cheaper than feeding it with industrial feeds. Though, there are very few situations where grazing (pasture feeding) more and feeding (industrial feeds) less won’t be more profitable.

Some ranchers have a way of balancing feeding and grazing in the field. What is of concern is that ranchers should strike a balance to know how to care for the ranch in terms of feeding and maintain a good level of profitability. As a suggestion, grazing should be carried out more than feeding.

Keep debt-to-equity ratio low: The debt – to – equity ratio is a ratio that shows the liquidity ratio of the ranch. The ratio is either low or high. A low ratio means the ranch is doing well financially and this is expected to be the desire of the rancher.

A low ratio can be maintained when and only the costs of the ranch are kept as low as possible. Low debt gives you the flexibility to change and adapt to new circumstances and to use new ideas.

While the debt may be due to outside causes, too much debt in relationship to size is ultimately the reason that most businesses fail. They get in too deep before recognizing that changes are needed.

Cut overhead to the bone: Most ranches have too much stuff – equipment, buildings and facilities. It just doesn’t take very much stuff or many people to run a good-sized ranch.

All of these have their cost and they are on the ranch. It then becomes important that the stuff to be kept by the rancher should be that just a little above what is needed, just to reduce cost and increase benefits.

Improvegrossmargin: Gross margin is total dollar / naira returns minus direct costs. Total returns come from how many units you’re able to sell and how well you sell them. In addition to selling well, gross margin is driven by the wise use of inputs.

Don’t use the input if you aren’t confident it will pay for itself, plus make a profit. Generally, gross margin can be more improved when there is efficiency of inputs (like feeds, supplements and healthcare products) use and wastage brought to be barest minimum. All of these will effectively lead to increase in profit margin.

Read Also : Beef Production: Herding, Advantages, Disadvantages, Impact and Issues

Improving Management Practices

Management is characterized by grazing within the fixed boundaries of the ranch. Ranches are generally commercial enterprises, with generation of a cash income as the primary function of the livestock raised on them.

In addition to its management and production objectives, there are a number of best management practices that according to Ranch.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, if adopted broadly, can measurably reduce environmental impacts and possibly improves the ranch’s profitability. These practices include:

i. Maintaining vegetative cover: Maintaining vegetative cover will help to reduce soil erosion, soil micro and macro organisms and improve soil texture and structure. All put together, it helps in the production of pastures for the animals.

ii. Avoiding overgrazing: Overgrazing is allowing too many animals to graze within a limited area of land. Overgrazing leads to messing up of the land, flooding and leading to death of the plants and crops used as pasture. For this reason, it should be avoided.

iii. Protecting riparian areas: Riparian areas are areas around the bank of streams or rivers. It is thus advised that such areas should not be used for ranching purposes because they are more susceptible to erosion menace and contamination of water bodies.

iv. Selecting for cattle that are moreefficient: It is wise and common knowledge that the prolific performance of the cows differ amongst themselves.

Again in health consideration, some are healthier than others. These major factors amongst others should be taken into consideration when the rancher is forming or making up his / her herd.

v. Reducing waste and disposing of waste in the least harmful ways: Wastes are bound to generate from the farming process. It has become necessary that the waste being generated should be brought to be barest minimum through efficiency in resource use.

Also any generated waste, should be properly disposed off. This should be, in other to avoid the development or spread of any disease condition in the ranch.

Animal Husbandry

vi. Using chemicals and antibiotics judiciously: This has to do with the wise or recommended use chemicals and antibiotics. The chemicals and antibiotics have their good sides. But suffice to say that these chemicals and antibiotics also have their negative sides when uncontrollably used. Such scenario will lead to adverse effects and so should be prevented.

vii. Reducing wastewater: This scenario points to the fact that water should be judiciously used. Taking into consideration that waste water may run down into water bodies and contaminate it, it becomes necessary that water should be efficiently used to guide against wastage and its possible consequences.

viii. Reducing soil compaction: A compact soil cannot grow crops and pasture well or in the way it was supposed to grow crops and of cause pasture. Soil compaction can be reduced by avoiding overgrazing of the land. Avoiding soil compaction will enable crops and pasture.

Heterosis, or hybrid vigor, has so many advantages that it deserves consideration on most ranches. Remember, heterosis is most effective where selection is least effective – traits of low heritability that include reproduction and survivability.

Using the advantages of both selection and heterosis, while combining the best aspects of two or more breeds, makes for really good cattle.

Becareful in the selection of bulls and the seed stock provider: The seedstock provider is your genetics supplier. He should thoroughly understand your objectives and be able to provide the bulls to meet those objectives.

Remember, the bulls determine what the herd will be in a few years, unless you are buying replacement cows or heifers.

Agood culling program: A good culling program combined with an effective, low-cost heifer development program will result in very few cow problems, as well as a short calving season with uniform calves that are very marketable. It will also reduce the need for labor to handle cattle problems.

Marketing of products: Marketing is trading off what has been produced for a price.

This must be attended to continuously, so always be thinking about how to sell each animal to its highest and best use. This doesn’t imply that you sell animals individually, however.

You can group similar animals and ages to sell to best advantage. Selling should be done at the best time possible that would yield maximum profitability.

In summary, animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock. It actually deals with the feeding, breeding, housing and health care of livestock for getting maximum benefits such as egg, milk, meat, wool, button and other industrial material production.

Animals are reared in ranches which could be as small as hundred acres or as large as a few hundred thousand acres or more and the advantages derived from ranching include the developing high yielding breeds of various domestic animals through cross breeding and for economical purpose like provision of income.

Profitability in the ranching business can be ensured through engaging in large size of ranch, ensuring a ratio of not less than 800 cattle per worker, increase the carrying capacity of the ranch, ensure a good proportion of the feed and pasture that are used to feed the animals, cut down overhead of the ranch and keeping down the debt to equity ratio.

Maintaining vegetative cover, avoiding overgrazing, protecting riparian areas, selecting more efficient cattle, reducing waste and disposing waste in the most harmful manner, reduction of wastewater, reducing soil compaction, ensuring a good culling programme, and good marketing of products are some of the strategies of maintaining and improving management practices.

Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with the care and management of livestock. It actually deals with the feeding, breeding, housing and health care of livestock for getting maximum benefits such as egg, milk, meat, wool, button and other industrial material production.

The advantages of ranching, measures to ensure and promote profitability in the ranching business as well as strategies of maintaining and improving management practices were detailed.

Read Also : Proper Ways Of Controlling Water Pollution

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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