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close this bookBetter Farming Series 08 - Animal Husbandry: Feeding and Care of Animals (FAO - INADES, 1976, 38 p.)
close this folderWhy learn about animal husbandry?
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhy farmers go In for traditional animal husbandry
View the documentAnimals can earn much more
View the documentHow to improve animal husbandry


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.