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close this bookBetter Farming Series 08 - Animal Husbandry: Feeding and Care of Animals (FAO - INADES, 1976, 38 p.)
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View the documentPreface
View the documentPlan of work
Open this folder and view contentsWhy learn about animal husbandry?
Open this folder and view contentsFeeding animals
Open this folder and view contentsPasture
Open this folder and view contentsLooking after animals
View the documentValues of some animal feeds
View the documentSuggested question paper


Published by arrangement with the
Institut africain pour le dloppement nomique et social
B.P. 8008, Abidjan, Cd'Ivoire

Rome 1976

FAO Economic and Social Development Series No. 3/8

First printing 1970
Second printing 1972
Revised edition 1976
Reprinted 1982, 1984

ISBN 92-5-100147-2

© French edition, Institut africain pour le dloppement nomique et social (lNADES) 1970
© English edition, FAO 1976


The first twenty-six volumes in FAO's Better Farming Series were based on the Cours d'apprentissage agricole prepared in the Ivory Coast by the Institut africain de dloppement nomique et social for use by extension workers. Later volumes, beginning with No. 27, have been prepared by FAO for use in agricultural development at the farm and family level. The approach has deliberately been a general one, the intention being to constitute basic prototype outlines to be modified or expanded in each area according to local conditions of agriculture.

Many of the booklets deal with specific crops and techniques, while others are intended to give the farmer more general information which can help him to understand why he does what he does, so that he will be able to do it better.

Adaptations of the series, or of individual volumes in it, have been published in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Creole, Hindi, Igala, Indonesian, Kiswahili, Malagasy, SiSwati and Turkish, an indication of the success and usefulness of this series.

Requests for permission to issue this manual in other languages and to adapt it according to local climatic and ecological conditions are welcomed. They should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Plan of work

Why learn about animal husbandry?
Read pages 4 to 9.
Have you understood that a herd is wealth and that it can earn a lot?
Take a look round your village to see what animals are used for.

Feeding animals.
Read pages 10 to 23.
This is a difficult lesson.
You have to understand the needs of animals and the value of foods.
Don't hurry,
Reread the lesson several times.

Read pages 24 to 30.
Reread pages 10 to 23.
How can you make better use of pasture?
Do you make hay or silage?
Where do your animals drink?

Looking after animals.
Read pages 31 to 36.
Reread carefully the whole course. It is very long, but it is very important.
Making a shelter for the animals does not cost much. It is made with things you can get in the village.
Don't answer the question paper until you understand the course.
Don't hurry.


Farmers may have many animals.

They usually keep chickens and goats around the house.

They often have sheep and cattle which roam about freely or are in the care of a keeper.

In dry regions there are donkeys, horses and camels.

All these animals are raised and used as they always have been. This is called traditional animal husbandry.

But animals can be raised in other ways, and then the farmer can earn more money.

Go in for modern animal husbandry. You will have more animals and fatter ones. You will get more money for them if you sell them.

You will make a bigger profit.

Replace traditional animal husbandry by modern animal husbandry.

Why farmers go In for traditional animal husbandry

· To have food to eat

Every now and then the farmer kills a chicken, a duck, a goat, a sheep or a pig, in order to eat it.

If he has no animals, he buys meat on the market.

Some people drink a lot of milk.

Meat, milk and eggs are very good food, rich food which contains a lot of proteins.

Proteins are a food that people need. To eat enough proteins means good health. People who don't eat enough proteins are often ill or don't grow big. Proteins help to build up a man's body and give it strength.

Proteins from animals are a food that people need in order to grow, become strong and stay in good health.

· To have animals for sacrifices and feasts

At a birth, a marriage, a funeral or traditional feasts, or when strangers come as guests, people often kill some animals: chickens, goats, sheep, cattle.

So the farmer often needs animals. He has to raise them himself.

· To have a store of wealth

Animals are often a store of wealth.

For example, in Mali when the stores of millet are about to go bad, a farmer sells his millet and buys some animals.

When the farmer needs money, either to pay his taxes or for a dowry or some feast, or to buy something, he sells one or more of his animals.

Animals are wealth that you can either show or hide.

If you want to show your wealth, you can keep them near the village. If you want to hide your wealth, you can get someone to keep them for you far from the village.

But this wealth produces little

· The farmer has wealth, but does not look after it. It does not require much work, but it does not bring in much money.

Often, animals are not milked. If they are milked, it may be the herdsman who drinks the milk or sells it.

Many animals die because they are badly fed, or because disease kills them.

Unless they are well watched, flocks and herds stray into the fields and ruin the crops.

· A man who owns a cart, but goes on carrying his produce on his head, owns a working tool, a means of wealth, but he does not use it.

A man who owns some bank notes and keeps them in a jar does not make his money produce anything; he lets his wealth lie idle.

A man who owns animals and does not look after them lets his wealth lie idle.

The cart, the bank notes, the animals are wealth, they are capital.

It is no good letting capital lie idle. Animals are a capital that should produce as much as possible.

Animals can earn much more

Traditional animal husbandry is useful, but it produces little and earns little.

Modern animal husbandry can produce more and earn much more.

· Well-fed animals grow more quickly, they become bigger, yield more meat. They can be sold at a better price.

· Well-fed animals give more milk. The young animals are in better health. The milk can also be sold or drunk.

· Well-trained animals can be harnessed and help you to farm bigger fields. They help to carry wood, water, harvests. You have more time for farming, your fields will be bigger and better worked.

· Animals produce manure. Your soil will become richer and better. Your harvests will be better. You will make more money.

· Animals that are well fed and looked after are healthy. They have more young ones and your herd will be better and bigger. You can sell animals and earn more money.
Animal husbandry is a capital that can produce a lot.

How to improve animal husbandry

If animal husbandry is to produce more, the animals must be raised in a different way.

· A farmer who wants to earn more money must look after his animals himself.

He must both grow crops and look after his animals.

In the old days there were people who grew crops and people who raised animals. Those who grew crops did not go in for animal husbandry, and those who raised animals grew no crops.

Today the same man must both grow crops and raise animals.

· The farmer must learn to look after animals.

He must:

· feed them better: especially the young animals; he must lay in reserves for the dry season, give the animals enough to drink.

· look after them better:

· build a shelter for them, protect the animals against parasites and diseases, look after them if they are hurt.

· use them better: make manure, train oxen, choose the best animals for meat, milk and work.

Why animals must be well fed

A child that does not eat well does not grow well; it is often ill.

A man who does not eat well cannot do much work; he is not strong, he is often ill.

It is the same with animals.

A badly fed calf does not grow well; it is often ill and often it dies.

A badly fed cow does not produce big calves; she cannot feed them well.

A farmer who feeds his animals well makes more money.

Animals change cheap food that is difficult to carry into other more costly foods that are easy to carry.

For example: grass, over- ripe yams, grain that is broken or eaten by insects, the remains of the family's food, are changed into milk, meat, work and young ones.

How food is used in the animal's body

Food is digested.

When the animal eats, the food goes into the digestive tract. In the tract the food is changed and digested.

The digested part of the food enters the blood to feed the body. The rest is rejected as excrement.

When the greater part of the food enters the blood, the food is said to be rich.

When the greater part of the food is rejected, the food is said to be poor.

There are rich foods and poor foods.


· Millet is rich food for certain animals. They can make good use of it. The greater part of it enters the blood. One kilogramme of crushed millet can give an animal's body as much strength as six kilogrammes of grass.

· Hard, stringy grasses in the dry season are a poor food for animals. The greater part of the dry grass does not enter the blood; it is rejected.

Not all animals digest food in the same way

For example:

Chickens, cows, pigs do not eat the same food. These animals have different stomachs; they do not digest in the same way. That is why they do not eat the same things.

Sheep, goats and cows eat the same food. These animals have the same stomachs.

Chickens and ducks eat the same food.

Pig stomach; cow and goat stomach

In one and the same herd of cattle there are often animals that eat the same food but do not grow in the same way.

They eat the same food and have the same digestive tract, but some use their food better than others.

How to choose animals' food

You must choose foods that give strength and energy.

· Many experiments have shown that a cow which eats 1 kilogramme of paddy (nhusked rice) can give as much milk s a cow which eats 6.5 kilogrammes of grass.

· Other experiments have been made for every kind of food for animals. These experiments have shown the amount of each food which has the same value as 1 kilogramme of paddy
1 kg of paddy is used to measure the value of foods.
1 kg of paddy is called a fodder unit or feed unit.
1 Kg of paddy (unhusked rice)
1 Kg of cottonseed cake
6.5 Kg of grass
1 kg of paddy,
1.6 kg of cottonseed cake,
6.5 kg of grass have the same food value.
They give 1 fodder unit.

Foods that give nitrogen must be chosen

To live, plants take out of the soil mineral salts (see Booklet No. 6, page 10) which contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.

Different plants have different needs (see Booklet No. 6, page 14).

All plants do not have the same need of the same amount of mineral salts.

Animals too have different needs.

· They need food that gives them strength and energy; these are called energy foods.

For example: maize, cassava.

· They need food to make their muscles and their meat. These are nitrogenous foods, foods that contain nitrogen.

For example: oil cake.

Modern farmers put fertilizers on their fields. Fertilizers complete the plants' food.

Modern farmers who raise animals also complete the food of their animals by giving them, as well as energy foods, foods that contain nitrogen. These foods are called feed supplements.

With nitrogenous foods an animal grows better and produces plenty of meat.

Food rich in nitrogen is called a protein- rich food.

Feed supplements, like fertilizers (see Booklet No. 6, page 14), are costly.

A farmer must choose the right feed supplement.

Many experiments have made it possible to work out the amount of digestible proteins (nitrogen) which each food contains.

The foods which are richest in nitrogen are oil cake, meat meal and fish meal, and milk.

The amount of digestible protein (nitrogen) in 1 kg of food

In the same way as for fodder or feed units, tables have been made which show the amount of digestible protein in each food.

Other tables have been made which show the protein needs of each kind of animal.

Animals make good use of energy foods and body- building foods if they are given mineral salts and clean water at the same time.

Values of certain foods

Grass and silage (see page 28) have a value of 0.1 to 0.2 fodder unit.

Five to ten kilogrammes of grass or silage are needed to give the value of 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of grass or silage contains between 10 and 40 grammes of protein.

· Hay has a value of 0.3 to 0.5 fodder unit.

Two to three kilogrammes of hay are needed to give the value of 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of hay contains between 25 and 70 grammes of protein.

· Oil cake has a value of 0.5 to 1 fodder unit.

1.5 kilogrammes of oil cake are needed to give the value of 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of oil cake contains between 150 and 400 grammes of protein.

· Grains have a value of about 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of grain is needed to give the value of 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of grain contains about 50 grammes of protein.

· Tubers have a value of 0.3 or 0.2 fodder unit.

Three to five kilogrammes of tubers are needed to give the value of 1 fodder unit.

One kilogramme of tubers contains between 7 and 9 grammes of protein (see the table on page 37).

What is a mineral supplement?

A mineral supplement gives mineral salts.

Animals as well as plants need mineral salts.

If an animal lacks mineral salts. its bones do not grow well.

You can give mineral salts by putting salt in the drinking water or in the hay, or by giving native soda or a salt lick (licking stone).

In a 1- kg licking stone there are: 400 grammes of salt, 150 grammes of calcium,

80 grammes of phosphorus, and other salts.


Animals need vitamins.
Vitamins help in the development of muscles.
Only very small amounts of vitamins are needed.
Vitamins are found chiefly in grass and fruits.
It is good for all animals, even pigs and chickens, to eat a little grass.

Giving the animals water to drink

· Animals need water

Animals lose weight in the dry season because they are not well fed, but also because they do not drink enough.

A sheep can drink 2 to 6 litres of water a day.

An ox can drink 30 to 40 litres of water a day, or even more in the dry season, when it is very hot and the grass is very dry. Oxen do not need to drink as much if it is not very hot and if the food contains plenty of water, such as green grass or silage.

· Animals drink:

· in the cattle shed, from a hollowed- out tree trunk, or from a barrel cut in half, or from a concrete basin, all of which must always be kept very clean.

· from a river or stream.

But you must be careful, because the water is often dirty and may give the animals some disease. Their water must always be clean.

You can build a little dam (see Booklet No. 6, page 16) to store up water.

· et a well.

Wells are sometimes very deep.
It takes a lot of work to draw water from them.
It is quicker with a hand pump or a motor pump, or with a rope and wheel.
You can use an animal to pull the rope.

Drawing water from a well

· So, remember, it is important:

· to give every animal every day all the water it needs, even in the dry season. It is best to make the animals drink two or three times a day.

· to give them water that is as clean as possible. Many diseases come from dirty water.

· not to let the animals stand in the water after they have drunk. They make the water dirty.
It is good to add a little salt to the water. We have seen that mineral salts are good for animals.

Food needs of animals

An animal must feed to live.

Many experiments have been made to find out what amounts of food an animal needs to live.

These are its maintenance requirement

These needs are different for each kind of animal and change according to the animal's weight.

Maintenance requirement of a 300- kg cow

· Many experiments have been made to find out what amounts of food an animal needs to produce milk, meat, work.

These are its production requirement.

This requirement changes for each kind of production and according to the amount of production.

Production requirement to give 3 litres of milk

Many experiments have been made for each kind of animal to find out:

· the pregnancy requirement when it is expecting young;
· the production requirement when the mother is giving milk;
· the requirement for growth when the young animal is growing.

Tables have been made which show for each animal the maintenance requirement according to weight production requirement according to production pregnancy requirement when it is expecting young growth requirement when it is growing.

To find out what an animal needs, add up all these requirements.

For example:

A cow weighing 300 kg which produces 3 litres of milk needs:

maintenance requirement:

2.6 kg

production requirement



3.6 kg

Total requirement of 300- kg producing 3 litres of milk

How to feed animals

Animals must be given enough food, rich food, prepared food.

· Enough food.

An animal that doesn't eat enough won't put on weight.

What it eats all goes on maintenance (see page 20).

Instead of having five animals that do not gain weight, a farmer prefers to have four that he can feed well.

He sells them at a good price.

He earns more money.

· Rich food.

An animal that is raised for meat must grow and fatten quickly.

Then you can sell it more quickly.

You can raise another animal, and make a lot of money.

To make animals grow quickly a farmer must give them rich food, he must give them feed supplements (see page 14).

Rich food is costly, and a farmer doesn't want to waste it. Know the animals' needs (see page 20) and reckon what the food costs and what it earns in the way of meat, eggs, etc.

· Prepared food.

To help animals digest this rich food, the farmer prepares it for them, that is: grains are crushed, roots and tubers are cooked.

Animals must be fed:

· at the same time every day.

The feed supplement must be given every day at the same time, so that the animal can digest it.

· all the year round.

During the rainy season it is easy to feed animals well. There is plenty of grass, it grows quickly, it is young and nourishing.

During the dry season it is difficult to feed animals well. There is little grass, it is dry and hard, and not very nourishing.

So there are some months in the year when cattle are well fed, and grow fat and are in good health.

There are other months when animals are badly fed and lose weight.

This is why a modern farmer stores food for the dry season.

If he cannot feed all his animals well because he has too many, he sells some of them at the end of the rainy season.

Then the rest of his herd will not suffer during the dry season.

At the end of the dry season, when animals cost more, he has some fine animals to sell and earns more money.


Many animals feed on grass.
A farmer must grow good grass.

Improving pasture

A pasture is the field where animals find grass to eat.

A pasture can be improved by encouraging the good grasses to grow and multiply, that is, grasses which are richest in fodder units.

To do that:

· Animals must not be allowed on the whole of the pasture.

In the rainy season, grass grows fast.

The animals eat only a part of the pasture.

The other part of the pasture is left to rest. There the grasses grow well, they multiply and this part of the pasture will be better the following year.

· Weeds left by the animals must be cut.

The animals stayed on one part of the pasture, but they left uneaten certain weeds. These weeds must be cut down before they make seeds. Then they will not multiply.

· Good use must be made of the pasture.

Some farmers put too many animals on a pasture.

Some farmers do not put enough animals on a pasture.

You must put on a pasture the number of animals that will use it without spoiling it, but at the same time will be well fed.

Pasture that is not used is wasted wealth.

Making new pasture

To make new pasture, sow or plant grass.

Wait till the grass has grown and become fairly tall before putting animals on it. When the animals have eaten the grass, take them to another pasture. The grass will grow again on the first pasture. Wait till it has fully grown before putting the animals back on the first pasture. Sown or planted pastures can yield plenty of grass.

To make a new pasture, sow Pueraria, Centrosema, Stylosanthes, Crotalaria, Melinis, Napier grass (elephant grass). Ask the extension worker what plants to use and where to buy them.

Many of these plants continue to grow during the dry season. So you have a reserve of pasture grass, and the animals are well fed all the year.

These plants protect the soil and make it richer. When you plough up this pasture, the crops that you grow afterwards will yield good harvests. The pasture is part of the land allocation (see Booklet No. 5, page 27). The pasture acts as a fallow.

Using new pasture

Divide the field into four parts.
Each week put the herd on one part.
The grass grows meanwhile in the other parts.
At the end of four weeks, start again on the first part.

The four weeks

Growing fodder crops

You can sow millet, maize, or selected grasses (see Booklet No. 3, page 22), such as Guatemala grass or Digitaria, as fodder crops for animals.

Do not wait until the seeds form. Cut the plants when they are still green and give them to the animals to eat.

Do not let the animals go among these crops.

You must cut the plants at the right moment. If you cut them too soon, they will not have grown enough and will give less food. If you cut them too late, the plants will be hard, and not easy to digest (see page 11).

Many farmers are not used to growing millet or maize to give to animals.

But if they feed their herd well, they earn more money.

Just a few kilogrammes of this food will enable the animals to do better in the dry season.

Do not sow this millet or maize to eat the grain or to sell it, but to give the green plants to the animals to eat. The animals change this millet and maize into milk, into work and into meat, for the use of people.


During the rainy season, grass grows a lot. The cattle do not eat all of it. Grass can be stored in the form of silage or hay.


Dig a pit 1.50 to 2 metres deep and 1.50 to 2 metres wide.

This pit is called a silo. It has to be made rather long, so that all the cut grass can be put into it. At the bottom of the silo put some large stones. On these stones put the grass to be stored. Tread the grass down well by trampling on it. On top of the full silo, on the pressed- down grass, put earth and stones.

The silo must be well closed, so that air and rain cannot get in, and the grass will not rot. Grass so kept stays good for a long time, for several months. Animals eat it readily.

So that the grass stays good, you must not take more than two days to fill, tread down and close the silo.

A silo


You can also dry grass. Cut the grass when it is green and let it dry. The dried grass is called hay.

Many farmers keep the dried stalks and leaves of groundnuts in order to feed them to animals. This is groundnut hay.

Hay is nearly as good a food as green grass.

For hay to be good food, you must cut the grass when it is still green, before it starts going to seed, and before it becomes too hard. Cut the grass when it is young, and you'll get good hay. If you wait too long before cutting the grass, you will get not hay, but straw.

Animals do eat straw, but it is not easy to digest. Straw is used for making manure.

· How to make hay

You can cut grass with a machete. But you will get the work done more quickly if you cut the grass with a scythe.

Cutting grass with a machete

When the grass is cut, let it dry in the sun.

Then turn it over and leave in the sun the parts that are not yet dry.

This work is done with a fork. When all the grass is quite dry, make it into a big heap next to the animal shed.

Then you can give the animals food during the dry season.

When the grass is dry on one side, turn it over to dry on the other side

Sun is needed to dry grass.

So you must wait for the end of the rainy season before you make hay.

In addition to grass and hay, give a feed supplement (see page 14).

For example:

Give oil cake to oxen when they are working, to cows when they are pregnant and are feeding the calves with their milk.

Animals must be watched

A farmer who leaves his animals to roam freely, who does not watch them, has not much work to do.

But his animals:

· do not make good use of the grass.

They eat the good grasses first and leave the poor ones.
The good grasses are always eaten before they make seeds, and so they cannot multiply.
On the other hand, the poor grasses which are not eaten grow well and make many seeds. So they multiply and the pasture becomes poor.

· may have accidents and get diseases.

They may go near streams and catch many diseases.
If an animal is bitten by a snake or has some accident, nobody knows about it, and nobody looks after the animal.
Animals can also be stolen more easily.

· damage crops.

To prevent animals from damaging crops, fields must be surrounded by fences, or else fields a long way from the village must be farmed. Then the farmer loses a lot of time going to his fields.

How to watch over animals

In a paddock

To make a paddock, put a fence around the pasture so that the animals cannot get out. The fence is made with wire and posts. But wire is costly.

Two kinds of fence

There are cheaper ways of making a fence. You can plant a row of small trees very close to one another, or two rows of sisal or thorns. You can also use millet stalks. It takes a lot of time and work to make fences and keep them in good repair

In the paddock it is easier to keep the animals under watch.

They can't get out and damage the crops, and they make better use of all the grass of the pasture.

Making fences requires money and work. It is useless to spend money unless at the same time you improve the animals' food, and house the better and look after them better.

· With a herdsman

It is best for the farmer himself to watch over his animals. He can also get some member of the family to do it. Or several farmers who know one another well can put their animals together, have them vaccinated, and pay a herdsman.

In any event, the farmer must keep an eye on the herdsman to make sure he is doing his job well.

To do his job well, a herdsman must know about animals, look after them well, and lead them to good pastures.

A good herdsman does not cheat the farmers; for example, he does not sell the milk which the young animals are supposed to drink.

To help the herdsman, a dog can be trained to lead the animals, to prevent them leaving the herd and to bring them back when they do.

A well- trained dog is very useful to the herdsman.

Housing animals

Why shelter is needed.

To protect the animals from wild beasts, from wind, sun and rain, and from diseases.

Where to build the shelter.

· Near the farmer's house, so that he can watch the animals better.
· On dry ground, on a mound. Wet soil causes diseases. Do not build in a tow- lying place where the rain water collects.

How to build a shelter.

· You can build a shelter without spending a lot of money.

Use wood, earth, straw.

· The animals must be protected from the wind. Build a fairly high wall of earth on the side from which the wind usually blows.

Build small walls on the other sides.

· The animals must be protected from sun and rain. Make a straw roof.
· There must be a door big enough for you to get the dung out easily.
· The shelter must not be too small.

The animals must not be crowded. A sheep needs 1 square metre and a cow needs 5 to 6 square metres.

Front view of shelter

· Along the lower edge of the roof fix a bamboo that you have cut in half lengthwise. You must also take out the little divisions inside the bamboo.

Slope the bamboo slightly, and under the lower end place a drinking trough.

The rain that falls on the roof will run into the bamboo and from the bamboo into the drinking trough.

The bamboo will act as a gutter.

· You must build the shelter in such a way that the wind carries the smell away from the house.

Beside the shelter make a paddock where the animals can walk about.

1. It should be large enough to be divided into sections and should have trees for shade.
2. Make a fenced- off section for milking. This allows easier and cleaner milking.
3. Make another fenced- off section for calves to be separated overnight from their dams, but put it near enough to the milking section to avoid milk let- down.
4. Make a covered hay- feeder.
5. The manure pit is shaded. Put it far enough away from both the milking section and the carves' section.


Values of some animal feeds


Number of feed units per kg of feed

Kilogrammes, of feed to equal1 feed unit

Grammes of digestible protein per kg of feed

Green fodder

Pasture grass




Maize stems and leaves




Pueraria (grass)




Green sorghum




Green millet




Cassava leaves





Very good prairie hay




Average prairie hay




Groundnut leaves without shells




Pueraria (hay)





Pasture grass









0.1 5



Oil cake













Palm kernel













Roots and tubers









Suggested question paper


A farmer can earn money with his ........................
This requires him to
A farmer should ........................ of his herd.
An animal that is badly fed is often and it does not........................
In the dry season animals do not have enough........................
A farmer grows ........................crops
Animals also need clean ........................and ........................for example, a licking stone.
Animals should not be left........................, but put in a paddock.
You can have the herd watched by a........................who is helped by a well- trained .
Animals are protected from wind and rain by a........................
It is built on a........................It is big enough for the animals not to be ........................
Beside the shelter, make a........................where the animals can walk about.

What is a feed supplement?
What is a mineral supplement?
What mineral supplements do you know?
Why must an animal with young be well fed?
What is meant by "maintenance requirement"?
Why do animals need water? And why clean water?
How do you make hay?
How can pasture be improved?
Explain to a friend why you do not leave the animals to roam freely.