Dairy, Milk and Meat Productivity
Animal husbandry is an important branch of agribusiness, concerned primarily with the raising of animals for milk, fibre, meat, or any processed product. It also includes the breeding and day-to-day care of animals. This includes poultry, cattle, game goats, llamas, sheep, ostriches, zebras, exotic birds, etc. A large number of small businesses breed, train, and rear animals commercially. These enterprises have wide ranging roles in food, feeds, packaging, aesthetics, and animal health. They include hatcheries, packing houses, meatpacking companies, and veterinary clinics.
Agriculture has been an important player in the Indian economy ever since the dawn of civilization. The numerous varieties of animal husbandry techniques have been used throughout the history of Indian agriculture. The late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam brought to limelight certain practices that could be utilized to increase milk production in dairy farms. This research resulted in the growth of organized animal husbandry and the foundation of the Indian Dairy Institute. Since then, this industry has gone through great developments.
The ancient practice of keeping livestock at domestic levels led to the differentiation of cattle breeds. Different varieties of cattle and their respective owners were differentiated according to diet, size, temperament, and usage. As years passed by, the differentiation of cattle breeds was more based on their productivity rather than their appearance. The first notable achievement in the field of animal husbandry practices was the domestication of the domestic bovine called the “buffalo.” The bovines served as a source of milk and meat for the Hindu community. The next major achievement was the crossing of the Indian bison with the African bison called the “giraffe.”
The traditional methods of breeding selected stock and selling them off to the public still continue, but with many changes. Modern-day husbandry practices have been greatly affected by the advent of the genetic revolution in animal husbandry. Genetic improvement in livestock breeding has helped breeders improve the quality and genetic soundness of the animals bred, thus ensuring an increased probability of producing healthy offspring.
Various techniques are used in order to increase production of livestock products and elevate the productivity of the common man. One of the best known examples of this is the use of antibiotics in modern agriculture. Antibiotics have been employed for decades, starting from simple cures for bacterial infections to complete world wide scale eradication of the swine flu. Today, antibiotics are commonly administered to animals in order to promote milk and beef production in dairy farms. The use of synthetic hormones is also quite popular in animal husbandry. These synthetic hormones, called oestrogen, are introduced into the animals’ system in order to induce them to produce more milk and meat.
Animal husbandry in the modern era is categorized into four major sectors. These sectors are dairy farming, poultry, horticulture and wild forest farming. Each of these sectors requires specific practices in order to produce high-quality dairy products, beef and wool. The production of such commodities is highly dependent on factors such as the fertility of the animal, the environment in which the farming takes place and the availability of key resources. This, in turn, determines the animal’s characteristics, health and behavior and contributes significantly to the quality and yield of the final product. For instance, in order to be able to improve the quality of milk produced, the use of modern techniques such as biotechnology, genetics, genetic engineering and feed combination is very important.