Animal Production and Health

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Dairy cattle

Dairy farming is a class of agricultural, or an animal husbandry, enterprise, for long-term production of milk, usually from dairy cows but also from goats and sheep, which may be either processed on-site or transported to a dairy factory for processing and eventual retail sale. Most dairy farms sell the male calves born by their cows, usually for veal production, or breeding depending on quality of the bull calf, rather than raising non-milk-producing stock Many dairy farms also grow their own feed, typically including corn, alfalfa, and hay. This is fed directly to the cows, or is stored as silage for use during the winter season. Additional dietary supplements are often added to the feed to increase quality milk production.

Dairy farming has been part of agriculture for thousands of years. Historically it has been one part of small, diverse farms. In the last century or so larger farms doing only dairy production have emerged. Large scale dairy farming is only viable where either a large amount of milk is required for production of more durable dairy products such as cheese, or there is a substantial market of people with cash to buy milk, but no cows of their own.

The production of milk requires that the cow be in lactation, which is a result of the cow having given birth to a calf. The cycle of insemination, pregnancy, parturition, and lactation, followed by a "dry" period before insemination can recur, requires a period of 12 to 16 months for each cow. Dairy operations therefore included both the production of milk and the production of calves. Bull calves are either castrated and raised as steers for beef production or raised for veal. As the size of herds has increased, the conditions in which large numbers of veal calves are raised, fed and marketed on larger dairies also have provoked controversy among animal rights activists.

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Piggery

Intensive piggeries are a type of factory farm specialized in the raising of domestic pigs up to slaughter weight. In this system of pig production, grower pigs are housed indoors in group-housing or straw-lined sheds, whilst pregnant sows are confined in sow stalls (gestation crates) and give birth in farrowing crates.

Pigs are kept in large stalls with large numbers of pigs per square meter. The temperature is raised which allows the pig to spend less energy on keeping its body heat at the right temperature so it gets fat quicker enabling the process to be much more efficient.

The use of sow stalls for pregnant sows has resulted in lower birth production costs; however, this practice has led to more significant animal welfare concerns.

Intensive piggeries are generally large warehouse-like buildings. Indoor pig systems allow the pigs' conditions to be monitored, ensuring minimum fatalities and increased productivity. Buildings are ventilated and their temperature regulated. Most domestic pig varieties are susceptible to heat stress, and all pigs lack sweat glands and cannot cool themselves. Pigs have a limited tolerance to high temperatures and heat stress can lead to death. Maintaining a more specific temperature within the pig-tolerance range also maximizes growth and growth to feed ratio. Indoor piggeries have allowed pig farming to be undertaken in countries or areas with unsuitable climate or soil for outdoor pig raising

Indoor systems, especially stalls and pens allow for the easy collection of waste. In an indoor intensive pig farm, manure can be managed through a lagoon system or other waste-management system. However, waste smell remains a problem which is difficult to manage.

The way animals are housed in intensive systems varies. Breeding sows will spend the bulk of their time in sow stalls (also called gestation crates) during pregnancy. The use of stalls may be preferred as they facilitate feed-management, growth control and prevent pig aggression (e.g., tail biting, ear biting, vulva biting, food stealing). Sows are moved to farrowing crates, with litter, from before farrowing until weaning, to ease management of farrowing and reduce pig loss from sows laying on them. Dry or open time for sows can be spent in indoor pens or outdoor pens or pastures.

Piglets can be subjected to a range of treatments including castration, tail docking to reduce tail biting, teeth clipping (to reduce injuring their mother's nipples) and ear notching for litter identification. Treatments are usually made without pain killers. Weak runts may be slain shortly after birth. Injections with a high availability iron solution often are given, as sow's milk is low in iron.

Poultry

Poultry farming is the practice of raising poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, as a subcategory of animal husbandry, for the purpose of farming meat or eggs for food.

More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs. Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens, whilst those farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens.[1] In total, the UK alone consumes over 29 million eggs per day. Some hens can produce over 300 eggs a year. Chickens will naturally live for 6 or more years. After 12 months, the hen’s productivity will start to decline. This is when most commercial laying hens are slaughtered.

The vast majority of poultry are raised using intensive farming techniques. According to the World watch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way. One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming. Friction between these two main methods has led to long term issues of ethical consumerism. Opponents of intensive farming argue that it harms the environment and creates health risks, as well as abusing the animals themselves. Advocates of intensive farming say that their highly efficient systems save land and food resources due to increased productivity, stating that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities. A few countries have banned cage system housing, including Sweden and Switzerland. Consumers can still purchase lower cost eggs from other countries' intensive poultry farms.

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Organic

In organic systems, chickens are also free-range. Organic chickens are slower growing, more traditional breeds and live typically for around 81 days. They grow at half the rate of intensive chickens. They have a larger space allowance outside (at least 2 square metres and sometimes up to 10 square metres per bird).

Indoor with higher welfare

Chickens are kept indoors but with more space (around 12 to 14 birds per square metre). They have a richer environment for example with natural light or straw bales that encourage foraging and perching. The chickens grow more slowly and live for up to two weeks longer than intensively farmed birds. The benefits of higher welfare indoor systems are the reduced growth rate, less crowding and more opportunities for natural behaviour.

Free-range

Free range poultry farming consists of poultry permitted to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner. Free-range chickens grow more slowly than intensive chickens. They live at least 56 days. In each chicken must have one square metre of outdoor space.