Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry is the scientific management of animal livestock. It includes various aspects such as feeding, breeding and disease control. Animal-based farming includes cattle, goat, sheep, poultry and fish farming. As the population increases and as living standards increase, the demand for milk, eggs and meat is also going up. Also, the growing awareness of the need for humane treatment of livestock has brought
in new limitations in livestock farming. Thus, livestock production also needs to be improved.


Cattle husbandry is done for two purposes— milk and draught labour for agricultural work such as tilling, irrigation and carting. Indian cattle belong to two different species, Bos indicus, cows, and Bos bubalis, buffaloes.
Milk-producing females are called milch animals (dairy animals), while the ones used for farm labour are called draught animals.

Milk production depends, to some extent, on the duration of the lactation period, meaning the period of milk production after the birth of a calf. So, milk production can be increased by increasing the lactation period. Exotic or foreign breeds (for example, Jersey, Brown Swiss) are selected for long lactation periods, while local breeds (for example, Red Sindhi, Sahiwal) show excellent resistance to diseases. The two can be cross-bred to get animals with both the desired qualities.

Proper cleaning and shelter facilities for cows and buffaloes are required for humane farming, for the health of the animals and for production of clean milk as well. Animals require regular brushing to remove dirt and loose hair. They should be sheltered under well-ventilated roofed sheds that protect them from rain, heat and cold. The floor of the cattle shed needs to be sloping so as to stay dry and to facilitate cleaning.


The food requirements of dairy animals are of two types: (a) maintenance requirement, which is the food required to support the animal to live a healthy life, and (b) milk producing requirement, which is the type of food required during the lactation period.

Animal feed includes: (a) roughage, which is largely fibre, and (b) concentrates, which are low in fibre and contain relatively high levels of proteins and other nutrients. Cattle need balanced rations containing all nutrients in proportionate amounts. Besides such nutritious food material, certain feed additives containing micronutrients promote the health and milk output of dairy animals.

Cattle suffer from a number of diseases. The diseases, besides causing death, reduce milk production. A healthy animal feeds regularly and has a normal posture. 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 like worms, affect stomach and intestine while flukes damage the liver. Infectious diseases are also caused by bacteria and viruses.
Vaccinations are given to farm animals against many major viral and bacterial diseases.



Poultry farming is undertaken to raise domestic fowl for egg production and chicken meat. Therefore, improved poultry breeds are developed and farmed to produce layers for eggs and broilers for meat.

The cross-breeding programmes between Indian (indigenous, for example, Aseel) and foreign (exotic, for example, Leghorn) breeds for variety improvement are focused on to develop new varieties for the following desirable traits— (i) number and quality of chicks;(ii) dwarf broiler parent for commercial chick production;
(iii) summer adaptation capacity tolerance to high temperature;
(iv) low maintenance requirements;
(v) reduction in the size of the egg-laying bird with ability to utilise more fibrous cheaper diets formulated using agricultural by-products.


Broiler chickens are fed with vitamin-rich supplementary feed for good growth rate and better feed efficiency. Care is taken to avoid mortality and to maintain feathering and carcass quality. They are produced as broilers and sent to market for meat purposes.

For good production of poultry birds, good management practices are important. These include maintenance of temperature and hygienic conditions in housing and poultry feed, as well as prevention and control of diseases and pests.

The housing, nutritional and environmental requirements of broilers are somewhat different from those of egg layers.

The ration (daily food requirement) for broilers is protein rich with adequate fat. The level of vitamins A and K is kept high in the poultry feeds.

Poultry fowl suffer from a number of diseases caused by virus, bacteria, fungi, parasites, as well as from nutritional deficiencies. These necessitate proper cleaning, sanitation, and spraying of disinfectants at regular intervals. Appropriate vaccination can prevent the occurrence of
infectious diseases and reduce loss of poultry during an outbreak of disease.


(b) Silver carp

(c)Common carp
(d) Rahu

Fish is a cheap source of animal protein for our food. Fish production includes the finned true fish as well as shellfish such as prawns and molluscs. There are two ways of obtaining fish. One is from natural resources, which is called capture fishing. The other way is by fish farming, which is called culture fishery.

The water source of the fish can be either seawater or fresh water, such as in rivers and ponds. Fishing can thus be done both by capture and culture of fish in marine and freshwater ecosystems.


India’s marine fishery resources include 7500 km of coastline and the deep seas beyond it. Popular marine fish varieties include pomphret, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and Bombay duck. Marine fish are caught using many kinds of fishing nets from fishing boats. Yields are increased by locating large schools of fish in the open sea using satellites and echo-sounders.

Some marine fish of high economic value are also farmed in seawater. This includes finned fishes like mullets, bhetki, and pearl spots, shellfish such as prawns , mussels and oysters as well as seaweed. Oysters are also cultivated for the pearls they make.

As marine fish stocks get further depleted, the demand for more fish can only be met by such culture fisheries, a practice called mariculture.

Macrobrachium rosenbergii (fresh water)
Peneaus monodon (marine)


Fresh water resources include canals, ponds, reservoirs and rivers. Brackish water resources, where seawater and fresh water mix together, such as estuaries and lagoons are also important fish reservoirs. While capture fishing is also done in such inland water bodies, the yield is not high. Most fish production from these resources is through aquaculture.

Fish culture is sometimes done in combination with a rice crop, so that fish are grown in the water in the paddy field. More intensive fish farming can be done in composite fish culture systems. Both local and imported fish species are used in such systems.

In such a system, a combination of five or six fish species is used in a single fishpond.
These species are selected so that they do not compete for food among them having different types of food habits. As a result, the food available in all the parts of the pond is used. As Catlas are surface feeders, Rohus feed in the middle-zone of the pond, Mrigals and Common Carps are bottom feeders, and Grass Carps feed on the weeds, together these species can use all the food in the pond without competing with each other. This increases the fish yield from the pond.

One problem with such composite fish culture is that many of these fish breed only during monsoon. Even if fish seed is collected from the wild, it can be mixed with that of other species as well. So, a major problem in fish farming is the lack of availability of good quality seed. To overcome this problem, ways have now been worked out to breed these fish in ponds using hormonal stimulation. This has ensured the supply of pure fish seed in desired quantities.


(a) Arrangement of beehive in an apiary
(b) honey extractor

Honey is widely used and therefore beekeeping for making honey has become an agricultural enterprise. Since bee-keeping needs low investments, farmers use it as an additional income generating activity. In addition to honey, the beehives are a source of wax which is used in various medicinal preparations.

The local varieties of bees used for commercial honey production are Apis cerana indica, commonly known as the Indian bee, A. dorsata, the rock bee and A. florae, the little bee. An Italian bee variety, A. mellifera, has also been brought in to increase yield of honey.

This is the variety commonly used for commercial honey production.

The Italian bees have high honey collection capacity. They sting somewhat less. They stay in a given beehive for long periods, and breed very well. For commercial honey production, bee farms or apiaries are established.

The value or quality of honey depends upon the pasturage, or the flowers available to the bees for nectar and pollen collection. In addition to adequate quantity of pasturage, the kind of flowers available will determine the taste of the honey.

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