Livestock as a word was first used between 1650 and 1660, as a merger between the words "live" and "stock". Animalrearing originated during the cultural transition to settled farming communities from huntergatherer lifestyles. Animals are domesticated when their breeding and living conditions are controlled by humans. Over time, the collective behaviour, lifecycle and physiology of livestock have changed radically. Many modern farm animals are unsuited to life in the wild. Dogs were domesticated in East Asia about 15,000 years ago. Goats and sheep were domesticated around 8000 BC in Asia. Swine or pigs were domesticated by 7000 BC in the Middle East and China. The earliest evidence of horse domestication dates to around 4000 BC.
Livestock management requires strong business sense and a firm understanding of how farms and ranches operate. If you enjoy working with animals and leading people, you might find a rewarding career in this field. Livestock managers are responsible for running the business of poultry farms, dairy farms, cattle ranches or other livestock-related agribusinesses. They must keep accurate financial records, supervise workers and ensure proper care and feeding of animals. Managers on smaller farms may be responsible for doing some physical labor as well, like assisting with animal births or repairing machinery. In the past, many livestock managers gained the necessary skills by working on a farm or ranch.
Livestock are domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber, and labor. The term is often used to refer solely to those raised for food, and sometimes only farmed ruminants, such as cattle and goats. In recent years, some organizations have also raised livestock to promote the survival of rare breeds. The breeding, maintenance, and slaughter of these animals, known as animal husbandry, is a component of modern agriculture that has been practiced in many cultures since humanity's transition to farming from huntergatherer lifestyles. Animal husbandry practices have varied widely across cultures and time periods. Originally, livestock were not confined by fences or enclosures, but these practices have largely shifted to intensive animal farming, sometimes referred to as "factory farming". These practices increase yield of the various commercial outputs, but have led to increased concerns about animal welfare and environmental impact. Livestock production continues to play a major economic and cultural role in numerous rural communities.
The term "livestock" is nebulous and may be defined narrowly or broadly. Broadly, livestock refers to any breed or population of animal kept by humans for a useful, commercial purpose. This can mean domestic animals, semidomestic animals, or captive wild animals. Semidomesticated refers to animals which are only lightly domesticated or of disputed status. These populations may also be in the process of domestication. Some people may use the term livestock to refer to only animals used for red meat.
Farming practices vary dramatically worldwide and among types of animals. Livestock are generally kept in an enclosure, fed by humans, and intentionally bred. However, some livestock are not enclosed, are fed by access to natural foods, and are allowed to breed freely. Historically, raising livestock was part of a nomadic or pastoral form of material culture. The herding of camels and reindeer in some parts of the world remains dissociated from sedentary agriculture. The enclosure of livestock in pastures and barns is a relatively new development in the history of agriculture. When cattle are enclosed, the type of confinement may vary from a small crate, a largearea fencedin pasture, or a paddock. The type of feed may vary from naturally growing grass to animal feed. Animals are usually intentionally bred through artificial insemination or supervised mating. Indoor production systems are typically used for pigs, dairy cattle, poultry, veal cattle, dairy goats, and other animals depending on the region and season. Animals kept indoors are generally farmed intensively, as large space requirements could make indoor farming unprofitable if not impossible. However, indoor farming systems are controversial due to problems associated with handling animal waste, odours, the potential for groundwater contamination, and animal welfare concerns. (For a further discussion on intensively farmed livestock, see factory farming, and intensive pig farming). Livestock source verification is used to track livestock.
Other livestock are farmed outdoors, where the size of enclosures and the level of supervision may vary. In large, open ranges, animals may be only occasionally inspected or yarded in "roundups" or a muster. Herding dogs may be used for mustering livestock, as are cowboys, stockmen, and jackaroos on horses, in vehicles, and in helicopters. Since the advent of barbed wire (in the 1870s) and electric fence technology, fencing pastures has become much more feasible and pasture management simplified. Rotation of pasturage is a modern technique for improving nutrition and health while avoiding environmental damage to the land. In some cases, very large numbers of animals may be kept in indoor or outdoor feeding operations (on feedlots), where the animals' feed is processed either offsite or onsite, and stored on site before being fed to the animals.
Livestock—especially cattle—may be branded to indicate ownership and age, but in modern farming, identification is more likely to be indicated by means of ear tags and electronic identification, instead. Sheep are also frequently marked by means of ear marks and/or ear tags. As fears of BSE and other epidemic illnesses mount, the use of implants to monitor and trace animals in the food production system is increasingly common, and sometimes required by government regulations. Grassfed cattle, saleyards, Walcha, New South Wales Modern farming techniques seek to minimize human involvement, increase yield, and improve animal health. Economics, quality, and consumer safety all play roles in how animals are raised. The use of hard and soft drugs and feed supplements (or even feed type) may be regulated, or prohibited, to ensure that yield is not increased at the expense of consumer health, safety, or animal welfare. Practices vary around the world, for example growth hormone use is permitted in the United States, but not in stock to be sold in the European Union. The improvement of animal health using modern farming techniques has come into question. Feeding corn to cattle, which have historically eaten grasses, is an example; where the cattle are less adapted to this change, the rumen pH becomes more acidic, leading to liver damage and other health problems. The US Food and Drug Administration allows nonruminant animal proteins to be fed to cattle enclosed in feedlots. For example, it is acceptable to feed chicken manure and poultry meal to cattle, and beef meat and bone meal to chickens.
Livestock farmers have suffered from wild animal predation and theft by rustlers. In North America, animals such as the gray wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, and coyote are sometimes considered a threat to livestock. In Eurasia and Africa, predators include the wolf, leopard, tiger, lion, dhole, Asiatic black bear, crocodile, spotted hyena, and other carnivores. In South America, feral dogs, jaguar, anacondas, and spectacled bears are threats to livestock. In Australia, the dingo, fox, and wedgetailed eagle are common predators, with an additional threat from domestic dogs that may kill in response to a hunting instinct, leaving the carcass uneaten.
Livestock diseases compromise animal welfare, reduce productivity, and can infect humans. Animal diseases may be tolerated, reduced through animal husbandry, or reduced through antibiotics and vaccines. In developing countries, animal diseases are tolerated in animal husbandry, resulting in considerably reduced productivity, especially given the low healthstatus of many developing country herds. Disease management to improve productivity is often the first step taken in implementing an agriculture policy. Disease management can be achieved by modifying animal husbandry practices. These measures aim to prevent infection with biosecurity measures such as controlling animal mixing and entry to farm lots, wearing protective clothing, and quarantining sick animals. Diseases also may be controlled by the use of vaccines and antibiotics. Antibiotics in subtherapeutic doses may also be used as a growth promoter, sometimes increasing growth by 10-15%. Concerns about antibiotic resistance have led in some cases to discouraging the practice of preventive dosing such as the use of antibioticlaced feed. Countries often require veterinary certificates as a condition for transporting, selling, or exhibiting animals. Diseasefree areas often rigorously enforce rules for preventing the entry of potentially diseased animals, including quarantine.
Since many livestock are herd animals, they were historically driven to market "on the hoof" to a town or other central location. Truck transport is now common in developed countries. Local and regional livestock auctions and commodity markets facilitate trade in livestock. In other areas, livestock may be bought and sold in a bazaar, such as may be found in many parts of Central Asia, or in an informal flea markettype setting. developing countries, providing access to markets has encouraged farmers to invest in livestock, with the result being improved livelihoods.
Animal welfare groups generally seek to generate public discussion on livestock raising practices and to secure greater regulation and scrutiny of livestock industry practices. Animal rights groups usually seek to abolish livestock farming, although some groups may recognise the necessity of first achieving more stringent regulation . Animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA are often, in firstworld countries, given a voice at governmental level in the development of policy. Animal rights groups find it harder to convey their concerns, and as a result, may advocate civil disobedience or violence.
A number of animal husbandry practices have been the subject of campaigns in the 1990s and 2000s and have led to legislation in some countries. Confinement of livestock in small and unnatural spaces is often done for economic or health reasons. Animals may be kept in the minimum size of cage or pen with little or no space to exercise. Where livestock are used as a source of power, they may be pushed beyond their limits to the point of exhaustion. Increased public awareness and visibility of such abuse meant it was one of the first areas to receive legislation in the 19th century in European countries, but it continues in parts of Asia. Broiler hens may be debeaked, pigs may have deciduous teeth pulled, cattle may be dehorned and branded, dairy cows and sheep may have tails cropped, Merino sheep may undergo mulesing, and many types of male animals may be castrated. Animals may be transported long distances to market and slaughter, often under overcrowded conditions, heat stress, lack of feed and water, and without rest breaks. Such practices have been subject to legislation and protest (see Live Export). Appropriate methods to slaughter livestock were an early target for legislation. Campaigns continue to target halal and kosher religious ritual slaughter.
The issue of livestock as a major policy focus remains, especially when dealing with problems of deforestation in neotropical areas, land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. A research team at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaidō found that supplementing animals' diets with cysteine, a type of amino acid, and nitrate can reduce the amount of methane gas produced without jeopardising the cattle's productivity or the quality of their meat and milk.
The value of global livestock production in 2013 has been estimated at about 883 billion dollars, (constant 2005-2006 dollars). However, economic implications of livestock production extend further: to downstream industry (saleyards, abattoirs, butchers, milk processors, refrigerated transport, wholesalers, retailers, food services, tanneries, etc.), upstream industry (feed producers, feed transport, farm and ranch supply companies, equipment manufacturers, seed companies, vaccine manufacturers, etc.) and associated services (veterinarians, nutrition consultants, shearers, etc.).
Livestock provide a variety of food and nonfood products; the latter include leather, wool, pharmaceuticals, bone products, industrial protein, and fats. For many abattoirs, very little animal biomass may be wasted at slaughter. Even intestinal contents removed at slaughter may be recovered for use as fertilizer. Livestock manure helps maintain the fertility of grazing lands. Manure is commonly collected from barns and feeding areas to fertilize cropland. In some places, animal manure is used as fuel, either directly (as in some developing countries), or indirectly (as a source of methane for heating or for generating electricity). In regions where machine power is limited, some classes of livestock are used as draft stock, not only for tillage and other onfarm use, but also for transport of people and goods. In 1997, livestock provided energy for between an estimated 25 and 64% of cultivation energy in the world's irrigated systems, and that 300 million draft animals were used globally in smallscale agriculture.
Although livestock production serves as a source of income, it can provide additional economic values for rural families, often serving as a major contributor to food security and economic security. Livestock can serve as insurance against risk and is an economic buffer (of income and/or food supply) in some regions and some economies (e.g., during some African droughts). However, its use as a buffer may sometimes be limited where alternatives are present, which may reflect strategic maintenance of insurance in addition to a desire to retain productive assets. Even for some livestock owners in developed nations, livestock can serve as a kind of insurance. Some crop growers may produce livestock as a strategy for diversification of their income sources, to reduce risks related to weather, markets and other factors.
Many studies have found evidence of the social, as well as economic, importance of livestock in developing countries and in regions of rural poverty, and such evidence is not confined to pastoral and nomadic societies. Social values in developed countries can also be considerable. For example, in a study of livestock ranching permitted on national forest land in New Mexico, USA, it was concluded that "ranching maintains traditional values and connects families to ancestral lands and cultural heritage", and that a "sense of place, attachment to land, and the value of preserving open space were common themes". "The importance of land and animals as means of maintaining culture and way of life figured repeatedly in permittee responses, as did the subjects of responsibility and respect for land, animals, family, and community."VARIETY OF PURPOSES:
Livestock are used by humans for a variety of purposes, many of which have an economic value. Livestock products include:
Meat: A useful form of dietary protein and energy, meat is the edible tissue of the animal carcass.
Dairy products: Mammalian livestock can be used as a source of milk, which can in turn easily be processed into other dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, kefir, and kumis. Using livestock for this purpose can often yield several times the food energy of slaughtering the animal outright.
Clothing and adornment: Livestock produce a range of fiber textiles. For example, domestic sheep and goats produce wool and mohair, respectively; cattle, swine, deer, and sheep skins can be made into leather; livestock bones, hooves and horns can be used to fabricate jewellery, pendants, or headgear.
Fertilizer: Manure can be spread on fields to increase crop yields. This is an important reason why historically, plant and animal domestication have been intimately linked. Manure is also used to make plaster for walls and floors, and can be used as a fuel for fires. The blood and bone of animals are also used as fertilizer.
Labor: The muscles of animals such as horses, donkeys, and yaks can be used to provide mechanical work. Prior to steampower, livestock were the only available source of nonhuman labor. They are still used in many places of the world to plough fields (drafting), transport goods and people, in military functions, and to power treadmills for grinding grain.
Land management: The grazing of livestock is sometimes used as a way to control weeds and undergrowth. For example, in areas prone to wildfires, goats and sheep are set to graze on dry scrub which removes combustible material and reduces the risk of fires.
Conservation: The raising of livestock to conserve a rare breed can be achieved through gene banking and breeding programmes. During the history of animal husbandry, many secondary products have arisen in an attempt to increase carcass utilization and reduce waste. For example, animal offal and inedible parts may be transformed into products such as pet food and fertilizer. In the past, such waste products were sometimes also fed to livestock, as well. However, intraspecies recycling poses a disease risk, threatening animal and even human health (see bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), scrapie, and prion). Due primarily to BSE (mad cow disease), feeding animal scraps to animals has been banned in many countries, at least for ruminants.