As a ruminant farmer, am sure you will like to have an idea of the space you will need to embark on ruminant farming. Well, the space of land that will be needed depends on all that you want to construct on the farm land.
For instance, If you want to construct only their housing without paddock, the space you will need will be minimal compared with when you want paddock, housing unit, resting shed etc. so, to get the ideal size of the land you will need, I will advise that you invite an expert, tell him/her all you want on the farm, the number of animals you want to start with, your expansion plan and your initial capital. All these will guide him/her in recommending the space needed for you.
There is also nothing wrong in you raising small number of ruminants at your backyard because small number of ruminants hardly constitute nuisance to the environment if they are not allowed to roam. So, raising any ruminants in small number at your backyard may not be a problem.
However, immediately they start increasing in number, you should look for a more suitable land and relocate them there. Most ruminant attract flies and so, raising them in your backyard may soon make your neighbors raise an eyebrow.
Ruminant production has been an essential part of human activities worldwide since ancient times.
The expected increase in world population and per capita income, with an increase in theamount and prevalence of animal products in human diet, urbanisation, with a concentration of population in urban areas and an increase in losses in the supply chain, and the growing con-cern over the environmental impact of animal farming require a long-term global strategy for amore intensive and sustainable ruminant production.
Therefore, solutions to increase the supplyof high-quality products of ruminant origin, without harming human health, animal welfare, and environment, should consider the following interconnected issues discussed in this review:
(a) effects of meat, milk and dairy products consumption on human health, focussing on theimbalance caused by their insufficient consumption, and the alleged increased incidence of cer-tain diseases due to their consumption;
(b) importance of the sustainable intensification ofruminant production systems (e.g. better feed conversion and higher production output per unitof input introduced into the farming system);
(c) environmental impact of ruminant production;
(d) improvement of animal performance by improving animal welfare;
(e) adaptation ofruminants to climate change;
(f) sustainable ruminant feeding (e.g. precision feeding techniques,optimisation of grazing systems, and use of unconventional feeds);
(g) challenges posed by pro-duction intensification to animal breeding and conservation of animal biodiversity; and
(h) strat-egies to increase ruminant production in developing countries, thus achieving food security invast areas of the planet affected by fast growth of human population.
Most farm animals need some kind of shelter to escape the elements. Most people think winter is the most important time to provide shelter but an animal’s natural coat can allow them to tolerate much colder temperatures than people can.
Summer heat can by far, be harder on animals than winter if shade is not available to them either by trees or structures if they are out on pasture, or lack of ventilation in a barn or building. Many livestock animals like pigs and rabbits, do not sweat, so heat stroke can quickly set in.
A simple, three-sided shelter with an open front will meet the needs of many farm animals on pasture and is often the building of choice to raise healthy livestock.
When designing a three-sided animal shelter, make sure the open side faces south, away from prevailing winds. Locate the structure on an elevated, well-drained site and keep winter access in mind for feeding and water handling.
Factors to Consider when planning Adequate Livestock Production (Ruminant Farming)
There are several factors to consider when planning adequate livestock shelter in cold weather:
• Air quality: Animal shelters should be open, providing natural ventilation, or enclosed, using fans and proper air inlets around the ceiling perimeter to provide good air circulation.
Tight buildings result in a buildup of respiration gases, and animal odors, which can irritate the animal’s lungs and cause pneumonia. Dangerous ammonia levels1can also build up and lead to suffocation death of animals and their caretakers.
• Drafts: Animals can stand cold temperatures, but you should protect them from drafts. Constructing panels in front of an open building can reduce drafts.
Consider drafts at animal height, not person height. When animals are allowed to run loose in a pen instead of being hitched, they will search for the most comfortable spots as needed.
• Dry bedding area: Animals will be far more comfortable in the cold if they have clean, dry bedding. A thick, dry bed provides insulation from the cold ground and decreases the amount of energy the animal has to expend to keep warm. Shelter from the snow and rain allows an animal’s coat to remain dry, which provides maximum insulating value.
• Fresh water2: All animals need water to survive. Under cold conditions, provide fresh water often or use freeze-proof watering devices. Animals will drink more when water is 50°F.
• Adequate food: Animals can endure severe cold temperatures if they eat enough food (energy) to maintain their energy reserves (body fat). Animals need energy for growth and maintenance. Extra energy is expended to keep warm.
Therefore, they will require additional amounts of good quality feed during cold weather. For herbivores, free choice hay in hay racks should be supplied in addition to a purchased feed.
Read Also: How to Prevent Flies on a Ruminant Farm
Importance of Ruminant Animals Housing
The main purpose of livestock production is to convert the energy in feed into products that can be utilized by human beings, such as milk, eggs, meat, wool, hair, hides and skins, draught power and manure (fertilizer).
Traditional, extensive livestock production involving indigenous breeds and low-cost feeding will usually have low performance and can therefore only justify minimal, if any, expenditure for housing. However, where improved breeds, management and feeding are available it will usually be economically beneficial to increase the production intensity.
Although this can be facilitated by, among other things, the construction of buildings and other livestock structures to provide for some environmental control, reduced waste of purchased feedstuffs and better control of diseases and parasites, this rule is not invariable. For example, it is difficult to identify an economic benefit in sheep production arising from the use of anything but the least expensive buildings.
At the other end of the scale, a relatively expensive farrowing house, providing a high level of environmental control, may improve the survival rate in piglets sufficiently to justify the cost and add to the profitability of the production unit.
The planning and design of any structure for a livestock production system involves many alternatives for each of numerous variables and can therefore be turned into a complex and theoretical subject, but is usually far simpler in reality.
However, every facet of the design, including the production system, equipment, building materials, layout and location, will play a part in determining the profitability of production and any variation in one of them may significantly affect the profitability of the whole.
One special difficulty when designing livestock structures for tropical climates is that, up to now, most research and development has been concerned with the conditions in temperate or cold climates.
Any recommendations derived from such experiments and applied uncritically in warm climates may result in an adverse environment for the animals and in very high building and operating costs.
Proper housing and management of animal facilities are essential to animal well-being, to the quality of research data and teaching or testing programs in which animals are used, and to the health and safety of personnel.
A good management program provides the environment, housing, and care that permit animals to grow, mature, reproduce, and maintain good health; provides for their well-being; and minimizes variations that can affect research results.
Specific operating practices depend on many factors that are peculiar to individual institutions and situations. Well-trained and motivated personnel can often ensure high-quality animal care, even in institutions with less than optimal physical plants or equipment.
Many factors should be considered in planning for adequate and appropriate physical and social environment, housing, space, and management. These include
The species, strain, and breed of the animal and individual characteristics, such as sex, age, size, behavior, experiences, and health.
The ability of the animals to form social groups with conspecifics through sight, smell, and possibly contact, whether the animals are maintained singly or in groups.
The design and construction of housing.
The availability or suitability of enrichments.
The project goals and experimental design (e.g., production, breeding, research, testing, and teaching).
The intensity of animal manipulation and invasiveness of the procedures conducted.
The presence of hazardous or disease-causing materials.
The duration of the holding period.
Animals should be housed with a goal of maximizing species-specific behaviors and minimizing stress-induced behaviors. For social species, this normally requires housing in compatible pairs or groups.
A strategy for achieving desired housing should be developed and be aimed at achieving high standards for professional and husbandry practices considered appropriate for the health and well-being of the species and consistent with the research objectives.
After the decision-making process, objective assessments should be made to substantiate the adequacy of animal environment, husbandry, and management.
The environment in which animals are maintained should be appropriate to the species, its life history, and its intended use. For some species, it might be appropriate to approximate the natural environment for breeding and maintenance.
Expert advice might be sought for special requirements associated with the experiment or animal subject (for example, hazardous-agent use, behavioral studies, and immunocompromised animals, farm animals, and nontraditional laboratory species).
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