Cover Image
close this book Animal traction
View the document About this manual
View the document About the author
View the document Acknowledgments
close this folder 1. Introduction
View the document What is animal traction?
View the document History of animal traction
View the document Why use animal traction?
View the document Some considerations
View the document How can animal traction be used?
View the document Before beginning: what do you need to know?
close this folder 2. Draft animal selection
View the document Popular draft animals
View the document Determining power requirements
View the document General rules concerning power requirements
View the document Method for determining size of the hitch
View the document Determining weights of animals
View the document Selection of individual draft animals
View the document Conformation
View the document Temperament
close this folder 3. Animal husbandry
View the document Sheller
View the document Nutrition
View the document Grooming
View the document Minor medical problems and first aid
close this folder 4. Training draft animals
View the document Before training begins
View the document General comments on training procedure
View the document Training cattle
View the document Program for training cattle
View the document Training horses, donkeys and mules
View the document Program for training horses, donkeys and mules
close this folder 5. Yokes and harnesses
View the document Yokes and harnesses for cattle
View the document Yokes and harnesses for horses, donkeys and mules
View the document How to harness a horse, donkey or mule
View the document Steering systems
View the document Breeching harness
close this folder 6. Hitches
View the document Safety rules
View the document Implement hitches
View the document Vehicle hitches
View the document 7. Field operations and implements
close this folder 8. Economic and technical assistance
View the document Farm planning assistance
View the document Equipment options
View the document Credit for equipment
View the document Credit for animals
View the document Procedures and controls
close this folder 9. Animal traction extension
View the document Extension education
View the document Appendix A: Animal power
close this folder Appendix B: Animal nutrition
View the document Energy needs: bovine animals
View the document Energy needs: equine animals
View the document Nutrient needs of draft animals: protein, minerals, vitamins
View the document Feeds and feed composition
View the document Calculating a ration
View the document Recommended rations and feeding practices
close this folder Appendix C: Disease recognition and control
View the document Parasites and parasitic disease
View the document Appendix D: Workshop and spare parts inventory
View the document Appendix E: Animal traction instruction forms
View the document Appendix F: Animal breeds used for power
View the document Bibliography
View the document Resources
View the document GIossary

Popular draft animals

Oxen

The most commonly-used draft animals are cattle. Among cattle oxen are often preferred, because they are well-muscled and have good temperaments. An ox is a bull which has been castrated and trained to pull loads, but the term is sometimes used to describe a working cow. In this manual, "ox" will refer to animals of either sex. Some stockmen define oxen by age as well, distinguishing them from younger "bullocks" by their full mouths (present at four years of

age.) Oxen are well-adapted to savanna and forest-savanna lands. Their use in rain forest zones has been restricted by disease, most notably trypanosomiasis, or bovine sleeping sickness.

Donkeys

In arid areas, the cost of maintaining cattle is often too great to make oxen a feasible source of farm power. Donkeys are better suited to these climates and often supply sufficient power for the kind of agriculture practiced. Donkeys are popular draft animals because they are inexpensive (often less than half the price of oxen on the live market), easy to train, and effective where shallow breaking rather than overturning of the soil is all that is needed before planting begins. The use of light equipment and the improvement of husbandry techniques has made it increasingly clear that donkeys are an important source of farm power.

Horses

Horses, by contrast, have not been popular draft animals in some areas of the world, notably West Africa. Horses can be more expensive to feed than bulls because they are not ruminant animals and therefore use roughage less efficiently. While they theoretically provide more power than bulls, horses do not deliver a sustained tractive, or pulling, effort under difficult conditions. However, horses are much faster than oxen.

Mules

Mules found in Africa are rarely used for draft purposes. Like horses, mules are expensive to feed. But where they are culturally acceptable (because they are a crossbreed, they are considered unclean by some Muslims), they have great potential. They have the intelligence and sure-footedness of the donkey and the strength of the horse, and are easily harnessed. A mule is a cross between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). The male offspring of this cross, called a horse mule, is always sterile, while the female offspring, or mare mule, is usually infertile. The female donkey, known as a jennet or jenny, is rarely bred with the male horse, or stallion. However, their offspring, the macho (male) and hinny (female), are basically indistinguishable from mules, and are good work animals.

Camels

Camels are used as pack animals through much of the Sahara. In Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Mali and Senegal they are used to supply power for drawing water; occasionally they are used to draw plows or light weeding implements. For information on husbandry and use of camels as draft animals, see page 234.

Buffalo

The domestic buffalo is used extensively as a draft animal in Asia; less commonly in Egypt and the Near East. Attempts have been made to cross Asian domestic and African wild breeds, but in each instance the resulting population succumbed to disease. Some researchers feel that futher experiments will prove the value of importing and breeding the animal in Africa, as its milk, meat, and labor potentials are high. Today experimental herds are maintained in Mozambique and Tanzania. Buffalo work at a slower rate than oxen, but are generally considered to be stronger and better adapted to wet terrain.

Except for camels, any of the animals mentioned above can be trained and harnessed using the methods described in the chapter on training.