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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderAnimal husbandry and dairying
View the documentSelection and breeding of cattle buffaloes
View the documentSelection and breeding of goats and sheep
View the documentSelection and breeding of swine
View the documentCommunity pasture management
View the documentCattle feeding
View the documentMake hay to preserve fodder
View the documentMake silage to preserve green fodder
View the documentImprove dry fodder by adding urea
View the documentUrea-molasses liquid mixture
View the documentUrea-molasses-mineral lick
View the documentClean milk production
View the documentLivestock diseases
View the documentCommon maladies in cattle
View the documentProtect your cattle from poisoning
View the documentAdaptation of livestock

Adaptation of livestock


- Graded murrah buttaloes need more green fodder and dry fodder than local buffalo breeds in order to perform to their potential.

- Compared to cattle, buffaloes are able to produce more milk grazing on low-quality dry fodder and crop residue.

- Goats can survive and produce on a diet of fodder trees and shrub leaves, a diet unsuitable for cattle.

Many environmental factors influence the health and productivity of domestic animals. If you know how animals react to different environmental conditions, you can select and breed animals that are suited to your location and have fewer health and production problems.


The quality and quantity of natural grasses vary from place to place, season to season. Different livestock species and breeds require different amounts and types of fodder for optimum production and health. Select the livestock types and adjust stocking numbers according to:

- the quantity and quality of natural grasses, cultivated fodder, and residues available from your land.

- the quantity, quality, and productivity of fodder, fodder trees, and grasses available from common lands.

- your ability to purchase concentrates, fodder, and residues.

Access to water

Different species and breeds have different requirements for water:

- Goats, sheep, camels, and donkeys can survive on little water for long periods.

- Buffaloes need plenty of water for wallowing in order to keep cool (this also improves milk production).

- Lactating and working animals need more water.

Soil acidity

The acidity of soil affects how much nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus is available to the plants and thus indirectly to animals.

Neutral to alkaline soils (pH 6.5 - 7.5)

Plants assimilate large amounts of nitrogen, so are rich in protein. Large animals can be maintained on alkaline soils due to greater availability of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

Water sources

Choose your species and breeds according to the availability of water through out the year from:

- Private borewells
- Open wells
- Hand pumps
- Public common property canals
- Ponds
- Tanks
- Water holes
- Streams
- Rivers
- Open wells
- Borewells

Acidic soils (pH less than 5.5)

Natural grasses are low in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, but high in crude fibre. Small animals are more suitable to acidic soils due to lower availability of protein, calcium, and phosphorus This leads to smaller muscles and bones.

Test the soil pH in your area and choose animals with body sizes suited to the availability of protein, calcium, and phosphorus in the natural herbage.


Select animals which are adapted to the temperatures in your area.

- In hot areas, animals with short hair coats and thin skin, well-covered with sweat glands, are best suited.

- In cold, windy areas, animals with heavy coats for the cold season and smooth coats for the warmer periods are best suited.

For example, buffaloes have thicker hides than cattle and a lower density of sweat glands. Hence, they need to wallow in water in order to keep cool. They should not be grazed under the midday sun.


Consider the following points:

- Large, heavy animals are at greater risk of injury when grazed on hilly terrain. Smaller-framed, nimble animals are useful here.

- Small bullocks can plough soils that are sandy and light. Heavy and larger animals are required to plough black cotton soil and clay or loam soils.


- Animals indigenous to an area often possess natural immunity to tick-borne and flea-borne diseases.

- In areas where insect-borne diseases are a particular problem, smooth-coated, short-haired animals, with large numbers of sweat glands and rich skin blood supplies, are preferred. These animals repel mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.

- Cross-bred, exotic cattle are more prone to tick-borne diseases, such as theileriosis and babesiosis.


Many other factors should be considered when selecting and breeding animals, including land ownership, access to labour, access to capital, technical know-how and markets. You must also consider why you are raising the animal-for dung, meat, draught, milk, mixed purpose investment?

When selecting animals, consider:

Technical factors

- What health support facilities are available veterinarians, clinics, local animal healers, paraveterinarians?

Financial factors

- Can you afford animal health services, or would it be more economical to rear animals that are naturally diseaseresistant?


- Internal parasites (worms, liver flukes, etc.) are a serious problem in some areas. While this is often a result of poor management, some indigenous breeds have developed resistance to endemic endoparasites.

Rainfall and humidity

Rainfall and humidity affect pasture production, groundwater availability and the population of ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and other insects and parasites in an area. They also influence the availability of minerals in the soil and the soil pH.

Adaptation of livestock to different agroecological conditions

Contributors: Ms Sagari R. Ramdas and Ms. Nitya Ghotge