Saturday, July 20, 2024
General Agriculture

Importance, Domestication and Origin of Monogastric Animals

The importance of monogastric animals cannot be over emphasized. Monogastric animals are animals with simple and single stomachs. Monogastrics have their importance, origin and various means of domestication. They include poultry, swine and rabbits.

The importance of monogastric animals are as follows: Acceptability; Good sources of protein. They are also good experimental animals: requires low capital intensive, they are good source of mineral, requires little space for rearing, has short generation interval, generations of employment opportunities, provision of raw materials, for companionship, as gifts etc.

Domestication brings about an entirely different animal species which becomes naturally accustomed to living among human in a beneficial relationship. Domestication can be defined as hereditary re-organization of wild into domesticated form. It is entirely different from taming.

Origin is the point where the animal came from. Origin also means the animal social and family background, their genetic makeup e.g., weight, colour, genetic trait and resistance to disease.

Importance of Swine

Swine/Pigs are very intelligent and learn quickly. They pick up tricks faster than dogs. Pigs rank number 4 in animal intelligence behind chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants. Piglets learn their names by two to three weeks of age and respond when called.

Pigs are very social animals. They form close bonds with each other and other species. Pigs enjoy close contact and will lie close together when resting. Pigs use their grunts to communicate with each other. Pigs are highly prolific.

A sow can give birth to a litter containing 7 to 18 piglets, about 2 – 3 times a year. The gestation period of a sow is 114 – 115 days (3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days). A piglet (baby pig), weighs about 1.5 kilograms at birth and will double its weight in just 7 days.

Weaning occurs at two months of age or less. Pigs are very clean animals. They keep their toilets far from their living or eating area. Even piglets only a few hours old will leave the nest to relieve themselves.

Domestic pigs are rarely aggressive. The only exceptions are sows with a young litter and boars if provoked.

Pigs are much more tolerant of cold than heat. Pigs have no sweat glands, so they can’t sweat. They roll around in the mud to cool their skin. The layer of dried mud protects their skin from the sun. If available, pigs, who are great swimmers, prefer water to mud.

Some pigs have straight while some have curly tails. Pigs have a great sense of smell. Their powerful but sensitive snout is a highly developed sense organ. Pigs also have a great field of vision, because their eyes are on the sides of their heads.

Pigs have four toes on each hoof, but only walk on two toes per foot. A mature pig has 44 teeth. A pig can run a 7 minute mile. Pigs can be reared almost anywhere given suitable housing and management.

Domesticated pigs are commonly raised as livestock by farmers for meat (generally called pork, hams, gammon or bacon), as well as for leather. Their bristly hairs are also used for brushes. Some breeds of pig, such as the Asian pot-bellied pig, are kept as pets.

Pigs have some major potential advantages which make them suitable for use in providing quick and cheap supply of animal protein.

Potentials of the Pigs

Pigs produce meat without contributing to the deterioration of the natural grazing lands and are less affected by seasonal changes. They are fast growing. They convert concentrate feed to meat twice as efficiently as ruminants.

They have high fecundity and prolificacy and short generation interval. Their output in terms of yield of meat per ton of live-weight of breeding female per year is in the region of six times that of cattle.

They have a quicker turn-over rate on investment as compared to cattle. Their relatively small size, when compared with cattle, provides for more flexibility in marketing and consumption.

Importance of Rabbits

Acceptability: the rabbits is generally accepted and there is no religious taboo against eating rabbit meat

Good sources of protein: the protein content of the meat is about 16-18% crude protein which compare favourable with other conventional livestock meat.

Lowcholesterolcontent: the meat of rabbit is low in cholesterol. The meat is a good antidote for those with hypertension.

They are good experimental animals: the animals are used for research purposes.

Low capital intensive: Rabbit farming can be started with very low capital. They do not attract high price compared to cattle, sheep and goat.

They are good source of mineral: Rabbit mat is rich in calcium, iron and phosphorus .

Little space: Rabbit farming requires little space for rearing.

Hardiness: Rabbit is a hardy and well adapted to the environment.

Rabbit has short generation interval.

They can tolerate high fibre diet than poultry.

They can also be used as pet.

The efficiency of feed utilization is high.

The faeces could be used to improve the fertility of the soil.

They can kiddle 6-7 times in a year.

The meat is tasty and better than the conventional livestock.

The Origin and Domestication History of Chickens (Gallus Domesticus)

The history of chickens (Gallus domesticus) is still a bit of a puzzle. Scholars agree that they were first domesticated from a wild form called red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), a bird that still runs wild in most of southeast Asia, most likely hybridized with the gray junglefowl (G. sonneratii).

That occurred probably about 8,000 years ago. Recent research suggests, however, there may have been multiple other domestication events in distinct areas of South and Southeast Asia, southern China, Thailand, Burma, and India.

Since the wild progenitor of chickens is still living, several studies have been able to examine the behaviors of wild and domestic animals.

Domesticated chickens are less active, have fewer social interactions with other chickens, are less aggressive to would-be predators, are less susceptible to stress, and are less likely to go looking for foreign food sources than their wild counterparts.

Domestic chickens have increased adult body weight and simplified plumage; domestic chicken egg production starts earlier, is more frequent, and produces larger eggs.

The earliest possible domestic chicken remains are from the Cishan site (~5400 BCE) in northern China, but whether they are domesticated is controversial. Firm evidence of domesticated chickens isn’t found in China until 3600 BCE.

Domesticated chickens appear at Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley by about 2000 BCE and from there the chicken spread into Europe and Africa. Chickens arrived in the Middle East starting with Iran at 3900 BCE, followed by Turkey and Syria (2400–2000 BCE) and into Jordan by 1200 BCE.

The earliest firm evidence for chickens in east Africa are illustrations from several sites in New Kingdom Egypt (1550–1069).

Chickens were introduced into western Africa multiple times, arriving at Iron Age sites such as Jenne-Jeno in Mali, Kirikongo in Burkina Faso and Daboya in Ghana by the mid-first millennium CE. Chickens arrived in the southern Levant about 2500 BCE and in Iberia about 2000 BCE.

Chickens were brought to the Polynesian islands from Southeast Asia by Pacific Ocean sailors during the Lapita expansion, about 3,300 years ago.

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While it was long assumed that chickens had been brought to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors, presumably Pre-Columbian chickens have been identified at several sites throughout the Americas, most notably at the site of El Arenal-1 in Chile, ca 1350 CE.

Genetic studies in the early 21st century first hinted at multiple origins of domestication. The earliest archaeological evidence to date is from China about 5400 BCE, in geographically widespread sites such as Cishan (Hebei province, ca 5300 BCE), Beixin (Shandong province, ca 5000 BCE), and Xian (Shaanxi province, ca 4300 BCE).

In 2014, a few studies were published supporting the identification of early chicken domestication in northern and central China (Xiangel al.). However, their results remain controversial.

A 2016 study by Chinese bioanthropologist Masaki Eda and colleagues of 280 bird bones reported as chicken from Neolithic and Bronze age sites in northern and central China found that only a handful could securely be identified as chicken.

German archaeologist Joris Peters and colleagues (2016) looked at environmental proxies in addition to other research and concluded that the habitats conducive to jungle fowl were simply not present early enough in China to allow for the domestication practice to have taken place.

These researchers suggest that chickens were a rare occurrence in northern and Central China, and thus probably an import from southern China or Southeast Asia where evidence of domestication is stronger.

Based on those findings, and despite the fact that Southeast Asian progenitor sites have not as yet been identified, a northern Chinese domestication event separate from that of southern China and Southeast Asia does not at present seem likely.

The Domestication of Pigs

Monogastric Animals

The domestication history of pigs (Sus scrofa) is a bit of an archaeological puzzle, in part because of the nature of the wild boar that our modern pigs are descended from.

Many species of wild hog exist in the world today, such as the warthog (Phacochoreus africanus), the pygmy hog (Porcula salvania), and the pig-deer (Babyrousa babyrussa); but of all the suid forms, only Sus scrofa (wild boar) has been domesticated. That process took place independently about 9,000- 10,000 years ago in two locations: eastern Anatolia and central China.

After that initial domestication, pigs accompanied early farmers as they spread out of Anatolia to Europe, and out of central China to the hinterlands. All of the modern swine breeds today there are hundreds of breeds around the globe are considered forms of Sus scrofa domestica, and there is evidence that the genetic diversity is decreasing as cross-breeding of commercial lines threatens indigenous breeds.

Some countries have recognized the issue and are beginning to support the continued maintenance of the non-commercial breeds as a genetic resource for the future.

Distinguishing Domestic and Wild Pigs

It must be said that it is not easy to distinguish between wild and domestic animals in the archaeological record. Since the early 20th century, researchers have segregated pigs based on the size of their tusks (lower third molar): wild boars typically have broader and longer tusks than domestic pigs.

Overall body size (in particular, measures of knucklebones [astralagi], front leg bones [humeri] and shoulder bones [scapulae]) has been commonly used to differentiate between domestic and wild pigs since the mid-twentieth century.

However, the wild boar body size alters with climate: hotter, drier climates mean smaller pigs, not necessarily less wild ones. And there are notable variations in body size and tusk size, among both wild and domestic pig populations even today.

Other methods used by researchers to identify domesticated pigs include population demography — the theory is that pigs kept in captivity would have been slaughtered at younger ages as a management strategy, and that can be reflected in the ages of the pigs in an archaeological assemblage.

The study of Linear Enamel Hypoplasia (LEH) measures the growth rings in tooth enamel: domestic animals are more likely to experience stress episodes in diet and those stresses are reflected in those growth rings.

Stable isotope analysis and tooth wear can also give clues to the diet of a particular set of animals because domestic animals are more likely to have had grain in their diets. The most conclusive evidence is genetic data, which can give indications of ancient lineages.

See Rowley-Conwy and colleagues (2012) for a detailed description of the benefits and pitfalls of each of these methods. In the end, all a researcher can do is look at all of these available characteristics and make her best judgment.

Beginning with the first domestication, pigs became the main domestic animal in China. Pig sacrifice and pig-human interments are in evidence by the mid-6th millennium BC. The modern Mandarin character for “home” or “family” consists of a pig in a house; the earliest representation of this character was found inscribed on a bronze pot dated to the Shang period (1600-1100 BC).

Pig domestication in China was a steady progress of animal refinement lasting a period of some 5,000 years. The earliest domesticated pigs were primarily herded and fed millet and protein; by the Han dynasty, most pigs were raised in small pens by households and fed millet and household scraps.

Genetic studies of Chinese pigs suggest an interruption of this long progress occurred during the Longshan period (3000-1900 BC) when pig burials and sacrifices ceased, and previously more or less uniform pig herds became infused with small, idiosyncratic (wild) pigs.

Cucchi and colleagues (2016) suggest this may have been the result of a social-political change during the Longshan, although they recommended additional studies.

The early enclosures used by Chinese farmers made the process of pig domestication much faster in China compared to the process used on western Asian pigs, which were allowed to roam freely in European forests up through the late Middle Ages.

Origin and Domestication of Rabbit

The European wild rabbit evolved around 4,000 years ago on the Iberian Peninsula, the name ‘Hispania’ (Spain) is translated from the name given to that area by Phoenician merchants, meaning ‘land of the rabbits’. When the Romans arrived in Spain around 200BC, they began to farm the native rabbits for their meat and fur.

The Romans called this practice ‘cuniculture’ and kept the rabbits in fenced enclosures. Inevitably, the rabbits tried to escape and it is perhaps no surprise that the latin name ‘Oryctolagus cuniculus’ means ‘hare-like digger of underground tunnels’.

Wild rabbits are said to have been first domesticated in the 5th Century by the monks of the Champagne Region in France. Monks were almost certainly the first to keep rabbits in cages as a readily available food source, and the first to experiment with selective breeding for traits such as weight or fur colour.

Rabbits were introduced to Britain during the 12th Century, and during the middle Ages, the breeding and farming of rabbits for meat and fur became widespread throughout Europe. Sources suggest that some women among the Medieval gentry even kept rabbits as pets.

Up until the 19th century, domestic rabbits had been bred purely for their meat and fur, but during the Victorian era, many new ‘fancy’ breeds were developed for the hobby of breeding rabbits for showing.

Industrialization also meant that many people moving from the country to the expanding towns and cities, brought rabbits with them; apart from poultry, they were the only ‘farm’ animal to be practical to keep in town.

Although many of these rabbits were bred for meat, it became increasingly common among the rising middle classes to keep rabbits as pets.

During the two World Wars, governments in both Britain and the United States encouraged people to keep rabbits as a source of home grown meat and fur, both for themselves and to help feed and clothe soldiers.

After the wars, many people continued to keep rabbits in their gardens, and they become common place as household pets. Rabbits have become the third most popular pet after cats and dogs in the UK, unlike cats and dogs however they are traditionally seen as ‘children‘s pets’, and often sadly misunderstood.

Domestication of Rabbit

All the domesticated breeds of rabbits were from the European wild rabbit, Oryctolaguscuniculus. Rabbits were originally classified as rodents, but they are now in their own order, the Lagomorphs.

The Lagomorphs are different from the rodent by means of dentition six instead of four incisor teeth. Also the Lagomorphs are divided into two main families, namely the pikas and the hares.

Pikas or the rock rabbits are commonly found in the mountainous areas. Lagomorphs Hares, differs from rabbit in that they are born in the open without nest and fully haired, with their eyes open and can run within few minutes of birth.

They are also known to have long legs and takes long leaps when running. Hares have the scientific names Lepus europaeus and Lepuscalifornicus – black tailed jack rabbits. The two main genera of rabbits are the true rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the cotton tail rabbits (Sylvilagus).

Domestication was first recorded in the rabbit husbandry in early Roman times, when rabbits were kept in leporaria or walled rabbits garden.

In summary, poultry and swine do have similar importance in some countries economy. The rabbit is a monogastric animal with some ruminant features giving it a comparative advantage over other monogastric animals.

Monogastric animals which include poultry, swine and rabbits are animals with simple and single stomachs unlike ruminant animals with four chambered stomachs. They have their origin, distribution and importance.

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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. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - 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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