Environmental issues in animal production
There is a limit to the carrying capacity of land to sustain
the food and habitat requirements of livestock and farm animals. It is easy to
befoul the natural environment through intensive animal production straining
already depleted resources.
Ruminants, e.g., cattle, carabaos, goats, sheeps, etc., can make use of
large quantities of low-grade forage and agricultural by-products and thus do
not need to compete with humans for grain resources.
- There are four issues associated with intensive
Waste disposal can lead to
The four environmental issues related to intensive animal
1. Waste Disposal
Solid and liquid waste, if not handled
expediently and properly, will create pollution and health problems. Nitrogen
from animal wastes can seep into aquifers or natural ground water reservoirs and
contaminate wells and community water supplies.
2. Toxic Residues
Substances like animal drugs (antibiotics -
e.g., sulfadrugs and feed additives, pesticides, environmental contaminants and
other carcinogenic substances) used in sustaining intensive animal production
systems are known to cause or are suspected to cause hazards to human health
(cancer, birth defects, reduced fertility, reproduction defects, neurotoxicity
and other toxic effects).
3. Genetic Manipulation
Intensive animal methods have an
adverse impact on the health and well-being of animals themselves. Through a
combination of genetics and environmental manipulation, intensive production of
animals has become possible. Unfortunately, selection of one set of traits is
attained only at the expense, neglect and underdevelopment of other clusters of
traits which may be equally important in the total performance of an animal
Genetic uniformity makes entire animal farming systems vulnerable
to unpredictable changes in the biophysical and social environments.
Reliance on row crops as major source of livestock feeds
contributes to soil erosion and overuse of inputs for soil fertility and pest
Intensive animal systems neglect the potentials of native animals
that can grow under harsh conditions and can survive on low quality and
Insufficient fodder, especially during dry
periods and droughts, forces animals to forage on available fodder growing in
the distant grazing areas. Overgrazing on the earth's natural cover contributes
to land degradation and soil erosion.
Massive herding of animals creates gullies that contribute to soil
erosion, soil compaction, marching of wetlands and dust storms in dry, windy
Free grazing of animals destroys both less-valued and high-valued
grass, crops, plants and trees that can lead to loss of various plant