Livestock farming, also known as livestock, refers to the economic activity that involves raising animals for the purpose of get animal productssuch as meat, milk and eggs. Since time immemorial, livestock farming has been a fundamental activity for the subsistence of human societies. Well, it provides food, materials and other essential products. On this occasion, we will explore in detail the different livestock production systems and their main characteristics.
Concept and meaning of livestock exploitation
Livestock farming is an economic activity that consists of raising and caring for animals for commercial purposes. This activity involves the breeding, feeding, reproduction and care of farm animals, such as cows, sheep, pigs, horses, among others. And Its main objective is to produce meat, milk, eggs and other products derived from the animals that are raised.
This can be done on both a small and large scale, depending on the number of animals and the type of production that is carried out. In cattle farms, they are used different techniques and production systems. It is used from extensive grazing to intensive rearing in corrals.
Another point to mention is its importance in the economy of many countries, since it provides employment and contributes to the food supply of the population. However, it can also bring negative consequences to the environment, such as deforestation, the emission of greenhouse gases and the contamination of water or soil if it is not carried out in a sustainable manner.
Livestock farming is an important activity in agriculture, since cattle can be used to obtain a variety of products for the food industry. Also, it can be used for field worksuch as plowing the land, transporting cargo or harvesting crops.
What is the cattle farm used for?
Livestock farming refers to the raising and care of animals for use in the production of food, products and services. This practice has several purposes, including:
- Food production: Farm animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry are raised to produce meat, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. These products are a important source of protein and nutrients for people, they are also distributed and used by food companies for the sale or manufacture of other products for the market.
- Production of derived products: Animals are also raised to produce products such as leather, wool, silk, honey, and other derived products.
- Job: In some places, farm animals are used to work in the fields or to transport goods and people.
- Biodiversity conservation: Some animal species are bred in conservation programs to preserve their genetic diversity and avoid extinction.
What are the types of livestock exploitation?
There are different types of livestock exploitation that vary according to the type of animal, the way of breeding and the environmental conditions in which the activity takes place. Some of the most common include extensive, intensive, dairy, swine, and poultry farming. Each of these has specific characteristics and requirements for its management. Therefore, it is important to know the particularities of each of these modalities to be able to choose the one that best suits the needs and objectives of production of each farmer.
Intensive livestock farm
It is a type of animal production that is characterized by the rearing of large numbers of animals in a reduced space, with the aim of maximize production and reduce costs. This type of practice is mainly used in the production of meat, milk and eggs.
In an intensive livestock farm, animals They are kept in artificial and controlled conditions. In this way they are provided with food and water in precise amounts, administered medication and prevented from moving freely. Animals are confined in small spaces. In addition, its growth is accelerated through the use of force-feeding techniques, growth hormones and antibiotics to prevent diseases and improve productivity.
This type of practice has been criticized due to the environmental and public health impacts it can generate. As with regard to water and air pollution, loss of biodiversity, waste generation and the spread of zoonotic diseases. In addition, it has also been criticized for the inhumane treatment given to animalssince they are treated as objects and not as living beings capable of feeling pain or suffering.
In recent years there has been a growing interest in sustainable animal production and the regenerative livestock, which seek to respect animal welfare, promote soil health and reduce environmental impact. These practices promote the raising of animals in natural and healthy environments, where they are allowed to express their natural behaviors and biodiversity and soil health are fostered.
Extensive livestock farm
It is a form of animal production where animals They are raised on large tracts of land. In this type of exploitation, they have access to natural pastures and feed mainly on them. They also have plenty of room to roam and graze, allowing them to lead a life closer to nature and reduce stress.
This type of farm is often used for the production of meat and milk. Animals they are raised on natural pastures and they eat a diet based on these, which is healthier and more palatable for them. In this case, there is no need for additives or drugs in the feed. In addition, animals that are raised on extensive livestock farms have a lower carbon footprint than those that are raised in intensive systems.
However, this form of exploitation also has its challenges. It is less efficient in terms of production compared to intensive production. Also, more land is needed to produce the same amount of meat or milk in an extensive production system compared to an intensive one. Therefore, extensive livestock farming may not be a viable option. for mass production of meat or milk.
In mining, large tracts of land may be needed for the extraction of minerals and in some cases, these lands can be used for cattle breeding. However, mining can cause deforestation and soil degradation, decreasing the availability of pasture and affecting the quality of habitat for animals. In addition, there are occasions where it can generate noise and vibrations, which could affect the health of the animals and their behavior.
nomadic cattle ranching
It refers to a form of animal herding in which shepherds move from one place to another in search of fresh pastures and water for their animals. This form of animal husbandry has been practiced for centuries in various parts of the world and is still used in many regions.
Nomadic herders often raise animals such as sheep, goats, buffalo, camels, and cows. They move on foot or in caravans with their animals and tents, and often follow seasonal migration patterns in search of fresh pasture and water. This form of grazing is more common in arid or semi-arid regions where pasture availability is limited and variable throughout the year.
This type of exploitation can have advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it allows pastoralists to use natural resources more efficiently and can contribute to environmental conservation by avoid overexploitation of pastures or desertification. On the other hand, nomadic herders may have difficulty accessing basic services such as health care and education, and their lifestyle may be vulnerable to climate and political changes.
Organic livestock farm
Also known as ecological livestock or organic livestock, it refers to the production of any product of animal origin, using agricultural and livestock practices that are sustainable and respectful with the environment.
In organic farming, the use of synthetic chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers, is avoided. Biodiversity and ecological balance on the farm or exploitation are also promoted. Here, the animals are fed with natural pastures and organic feedand are allowed to move freely allowing them to live in conditions suitable for their well-being.
Besides, the use of hormones and antibiotics is avoided, and disease prevention is promoted through proper animal handling and herd health management. This has benefits for both animal and consumer health, as the risk of exposure to chemical residues or antibiotics in food products is reduced.
Organic farming also has a positive impact on the environment, since it helps to reduce soil erosion and water pollution, promotes biodiversity and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, the use of renewable energies and the proper management of waste or by-products are encouraged.
What are the biosecurity measures for the livestock farm?
The implementation of biosecurity measures is essential to prevent the spread of disease between animals, in order to protect the health of livestock and the people involved in their care. Below are some common biosecurity measures for livestock operations:
- Access control: Limit access to the livestock farm and establish a disinfection area for vehicles and equipment when entering or leaving the farm.
- Personal hygiene: Establish personal hygiene measures, such as hand washing and use of clean work clothes, for workers and visitors before entering areas where animals are kept.
- Disinfection: Disinfect facilities, equipment, and tools regularly to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
- Insect and rodent control: Control the presence of insects and rodents on the livestock farm to prevent the spread of diseases transmitted by these vectors.
- Separation of sick animals: Separate sick animals from healthy ones to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
- Waste control: Control waste disposal, such as animal droppings and carcasses, to prevent environmental contamination and the spread of disease.
- Vaccination: Vaccinate animals to prevent infectious diseases.
- Animal health monitoring: Carry out regular monitoring of the health of animals to detect diseases early.
These are just some basic biosecurity measures that can help prevent the spread of disease on your farm. It is important to consult with a veterinarian and take into account the specific measures of biosecurity necessary for each type of farm livestock taking into account its geographical location.