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Animal Husbandry


Before the development of agriculture, man hunted animals for his food. Later he domesticated some animals. The dog was possibly the first animal he domesticated.

The branch of biology which deals with feeding, shelter, caring and breeding of domestic animals is called animal husbandry.

The term ‘livestock’ is used for all domesticated animals that are used to produce food and other valuable products for human beings.

Animals which provide food are of two types:

  1. Milk-yielding or Milch animals such as cows, buffaloes and goats.
  2. Meat and egg-yielding animals such as hen, sheep, goat, fish, pig, etc.

Milk-yielding or Milch Animals


In India, milk-producing animals are cows, buffaloes, goats and camels. The milk from goats is nutritious and sometimes preferred to cow’s milk. However, the production of goat’s milk is comparatively far less than that of dairy breeds of cows and buffaloes. The milk of buffaloes contains more fat than cow’s milk. Buffaloes are the major source of milk in our country.

Breeds of cow
There are about 32 breeds of cow and 10 breeds of buffalo in our country, but they do not yield sufficient milk. Some of them are good only for doing work. Considering both males and females, these are classified into three categories: (i) draught, (ii) dual purpose and (iii) dairy.

  1. Draught breeds are those whose males are primarily used for drawing bullock carts, ploughing land and transporting material from one place to another. The females of this breed yield less milk. Hallikar, Kangayam, Amrithmahal and Nageri are some of the draught breeds.
  2. Dual-purpose breeds are quite good milk-yielders (cows), and their bullocks (castrated bulls) are good for draught purpose. The breed Haryana, Dangi and Tharparkar serve dual purpose. Their females are good milk yielders, while their males are good for draught work.
  3. Dairy breeds are high milk-yielders and their bullocks are poor for drought purposes.
    In India, we have three types of breeds of dairy cows.
    1. Indigenous (Indian) breeds include Red Sindhi, Sahiwal and Gir.
    2. Exotic (foreign) breeds include Jersey, Holstein-Friesian and Brown Swiss.
    3. Cross-breeds (developed by mating bulls of exotic breeds with the cows of the indigenous ones), e.g. Karan-Fries and Frieswal.

The yield of milk from these improved varieties of cows has increased 2–3 times more than the indigenous ones.

Breeds of Buffaloes
A high-yielding breed of buffaloes is Murrah, which produces about 2000 L of milk during its lactation period, while the best indigenous buffaloes produce only 1500 L of milk. The other two high-yielding varieties of buffaloes are Mehsana and Surti. Both are common in Gujarat.

Management of Milch Animals

  • The food requirement of dairy animals is of two types:

(i) Maintenance requirement: the food required to support the animal to perform the basic functions of life.


(ii) Milk-producing requirement: the type of food required during lactation period.

  • The animal feed includes:

(i) Roughage, which largely contains fibres such as green fodder, silage, hay and legumes such as berseem, lucerne and coco pea.


(ii) Concentrates, which is low in fibres and contains relatively high proteins and other nutrients. These include grains of maize, oats, barley, jowar, gram and their by-products such as wheat bran, rice bran, gram husk, oil seed cakes and molasses.

  • The dairy cattle are given balanced ration, which contains all nutrients in proportional amounts. A ration is the amount of food, which is given to the animal during twenty-four hour period. For a cow it comes to 15–20 kg of green fodder and 4–5 kg grain mixture. Cows consume about 30–35 L of water in a day.

Diseases of Cattle


Diseases of dairy animals are broadly classified into (i) parasitic, (ii) infectious (iii) and non-infectious. The parasites of cattle may be both external parasites and internal parasites. The external parasites live on the skin and mainly cause skin diseases. The internal parasites such as worms affect stomach and intestine and flukes of the cattle damage the liver. Infectious diseases are mainly caused by bacteria and viruses.

  • Common diseases of cattle are foot-and-mouth disease, anthrax, rinder pest, haemorrhagic septicemia.
  • Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious disease almost exclusive to cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals. It is caused by a virus. Its symptoms are fever, loss of appetite and weight, and blisters on the mucous membranes, especially those of the mouth, feet and udder.

Discharge from the blisters is heavily infected with the virus, as are saliva, milk, urine and other secretions. Thus, the disease is readily spread by contact, by contaminated food, water, soil, or other materials or through the air.

  • Anthrax is an acute infectious disease of animals that can be secondarily transmitted to humans. It is caused by a bacterium (Bacillus anthracis) that primarily affects sheep, horses, cattle and goats, and is almost always fatal in animals. The bacillus produces toxins that kill cells and cause fluid to accumulate in the body’s tissues. Anthrax spores, which can survive for decades, are found in the soil, and animals get infected to the disease while grazing.
  • Rinderpest is an acute and highly infectious viral disease of cattle. After an incubation period of three to nine days, a wide variety of symptoms may appear, including fever, inflammation of the mucous membranes, particularly the intestines, discharges from the eyes and nose, dehydration, and skin eruptions on the back and flanks. Death comes after four to eight days.



Poultry includes hens, ducks, turkeys and geese which are kept for eggs and meat. The practice of keeping and breeding these birds is called poultry farming.

  • The most popular breed is Aseel or Indian game. This breed provides high yield of meat but it is not a good egg-layer. The average weight of cocks varies from 4 to 5 kg and hens from 3 to 4 kg.
  • The exotic varieties of hen, which have been introduced successfully in India, are excellent egg-layers and good meat producers. These are White LeghornPlymouth RockWhite RockBlack Minorcha and Rhode Island Red.
  • Some hybrid high-yielding breeds of poultry developed in India are ILS-82, HH-260 and B-77. The ILS-82 and B-77 lay approximately 200 eggs per year and the HH-260 lays up to 260 eggs annually.

Poultry Care Poultry birds are kept in wire cages or in the poultry sheds. The birds should not be kept in the open because they can be attacked and killed by predators such as dogs and cats.

The feed given to the poultry birds consists of mashed cereals such as bajra, maize, wheat, jowar, ragi, rice bran and groundnut cake.

Poultry Diseases
Birds of poultry farms are very prone to diseases. Some of the important diseases of poultry birds are as follows:

  • Viral diseases: fowl pox, Ranikhet disease.
  • Bacterial diseases: fowl cholera, Salmonellosis, diarrhoea of chick, coryzae.
  • Fungal diseases: Aspergillosis.

Proper sanitation and immunisation help in keeping the birds healthy.

Fish Farming


Pisciculture or fish farming is the systematic scientific method of cultivation of quick growing and highly nutritious variety of fresh water, brackish water or marine fish in large scale for commercial purposes and for fishing industry.

India has 1.6 million hectares of inland water bodies and 6,500 km long coast as potential source for fish cultivation.

  • Fishes are classified into three categories on the basis of habitat: marine, freshwater and estuarine (estuary means where a river flows into the sea). Common freshwater fish found in ponds, lakes, rivers and canals are rohucatlatiricasingharacalbasumallimagur etc.
  • Some important marine fish of India are Bombay duckeelhilsasalmonsardine and pomphret.
  • The main causes of disease in fish are viruses and bacteria. The IPN (Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis) and VMS (Viral Haemorrhagic Septicemia) are well-known infectious diseases of the fish.
  • The production of useful aquatic plants and animals, such as prawns, fish, lobsters, crabs, molluscs etc., using various types of water resources is called aquaculture. The production and management of fish alone is called pisciculture.

Meat-Providing Livestock


In India, goat, sheep and pig are the main sources of meat supply besides poultry and fishes.

  • There are a number of indigenous and exotic breeds of sheep used for the production of wool and mutton. Important breeds in our country are Nellore and Mandya. They are famous for production of wool. Cross-breeding of indigenous hairy wool breeds with exotic mutton breeds such as Dorset and Suffolk has given very good results.
  • There are 20 well-known indigenous breeds of goat in our country. They belong to different regions. These are Jamunapari breedHimalayan breedBengal and Assam hill breedDecanny and Osmanabadi breedKathiyabari breed etc. Popular exotic breeds are AlpineToggenberg and Sannen.
  • Pig farming (piggery) is common among people from weaker section and reared for meat (pork) and animal fat (hard). Pork is known differently according to the part of body. Lard is used as cooking medium, in manufacture of soaps, lubricants, candles and grease. Stiff body hairs are used for making painting brushes and the dropping provides good manure.
  1. Indigenous breeds are Desi and Ghori.
  2. Exotic breeds are Berkshire, large white yorkshire etc.

Diseases of Sheep and Goat Bacteria and virus cause the common disease of goat and sheep. Bacteria cause the disease such as Black-quarter, Brucellosis and Vibriosis. Viral infections cause sore mouth, goat pox and rinderpest.

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