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close this bookBetter Farming Series 09 - Animal Husbandry: Animal Diseases; How Animals Reproduce (FAO - INADES, 1976, 33 p.)
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View the documentPreface
View the documentPlan of work
Open this folder and view contentsAnimal health
Open this folder and view contentsReproduction
View the documentCastration
View the documentHow to know your herd
Open this folder and view contentsSelling animals
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. 3/9

First printing 1970
Second printing 1972
Revised edition 1976
Reprinted 1982

ISBN 92-5-100148-0

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


This manual is a translation and adaptation of "L'vage - les maladies et la reproduction des animaux," published by the Agri- Service- Afrique of the Institut africain pour le developpement economique et social (INADES), and forms part of a series of 26 booklets. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the publishers for making available this text, which it is hoped will find widespread use at the intermediate level of agricultural education and training in English- speaking countries.

The original texts were prepared for an African environment and this is naturally reflected in the English version. However, it is expected that many of the manuals of the series - a list of which will be found on the inside front cover - will also be of value for training in many other parts of the world. Adaptations can be made to the text where necessary owing to different climatic and ecological conditions.

Applications for permission to issue this manual in other languages are welcomed. Such applications should be addressed to: Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

The author of this English version is Mr. A.J. Henderson, former Chief of the FAO Editorial Branch.

Plan of work

How to look after animals.
Parasites, injuries and diseases are very bad for a herd.
You must learn how to look after animals well, and know about parasites so as to kill them, how to wash wounds, and get animals vaccinated so that they will not fall ill.
When animals are ill you must see the veterinary assistant or the animal husbandry service.

Read pages 13 to 24.
In order to improve a herd, you must know how animals reproduce.
What can you do to make a better choice of animals for breeding? How to choose males. How to choose females.
How to look after an animal when it is pregnant and when it gives birth.

Production of meat.
Read pages 25 to 30.
How to prevent the females being covered by the male when they are still too young.
All animals finish at the butchers. So you must try to improve the meat production of all animals.

Selling animals.
Read pages 31 and 32.
Reread pages 25 to 30.
It is not enough to produce. You have to sell.
How is the sale of animals organized where you live?
Reread all the course.
Answer the question paper.


A man is sometimes ill.
Animals too can fall ill.
When an animal is ill, it becomes thin, and may even die.
Then the farmer loses a lot of money.


Signs of good health

Signs of illness

(food appetite

No appetite

Very restless or too quiet
Sensitive back, cold ears, fever

Bright eyes

Dull eyes

Shiny coat

Dry, brittle coat

Growing well

Losing weight

An animal may be injured, may have parasites, may have a disease.


Pay great attention to animal injuries.

If you see an animal walking with difficulty (limping), or bleeding after a fight with another animal, or which has hurt itself, do not wait to treat it.

If you wait, the wound will become worse, it will become infected.

An infected wound is slow to heal; it may prevent the animal from walking, from going to the pasture, from working, from giving milk. An animal in pain produces less.

· Find out why the animal is injured.

Has it a thorn in its foot?
Has a piece of wood or iron torn its skin ?
Has a rope, collar or yoke rubbed, or been too tight?
Is there a vicious animal in the herd?
When you have found out why the animal is injured, you must get rid of the cause of the injury. If it is a working animal, do not make it work; it is better to lose a few days' work than to lose the animal.

· Treat the wound.

Wash the wound with warm water in which you have put something to prevent the wound from getting infected.

You can use soap or a chemical product such as permanganate of potash or cresol.

Wash the wound often. A wound that is always kept clean heals quickly.


Parasites are little animals that live on the skin or in the body of other animals.


· Ticks

Ticks stick to the animal's skin and suck its blood.
If an animal has many ticks, it can lose a lot of blood.
After a time, it will become very weak.
Kill ticks with chemicals such as DDT or BCH.

· Mange or scab

The parasite makes little holes under the skin and lays its eggs there.
If an animal has many parasites, it scratches a great deal.
Treat mange with products containing sulphur.
Skin parasites injure animals.
The animals become restless, they walk with difficulty, they eat little.
Skin parasites can carry many serious diseases.


· Usually they live in the digestive tract., For example, worms such as tapeworm and ascarid. They damage the digestive tract and prevent animals from digesting their food. Animals with worms get thin and sometimes die.

To kill these parasites, give the animals a medicine to drink, such as phenothiazine. You can also use some traditional medicines.

· Parasites also get into the liver. The animal does not digest well. Give it a medicine to kill the parasites.

· Parasites also live in the muscles. The animal has difficulty in walking. It has fever. An example is the trichinella of pigs.

· Parasites can live in the lungs. The animal has difficulty in breathing. It has broncho- pneumonia.

· Parasites even attack the brain. The animal turns round and round. This is the gid or sturdy of sheep. The animal dies.

The treatment for parasites often has to be repeated. The agricultural service will tell you what medicines to use.

With the digestive tract animals and people digest and absorb food and reject the waste matter.

A good way of controlling parasites is to let pastures rest.

Why is this?

The eggs of parasites fall on to the pasture in the animals' droppings.

The eggs develop in the grass.

Then they may stick to the animals' skin or be eaten with the grass, for instance, ticks and worms.

If you let the pasture rest long enough, the parasites cannot feed on the animals' skin, or live inside the animals, and they die.

So in order to control parasites, let the pastures rest. Do not put the animals always in the same pasture.

· Pay attention to the animals' wafer.

Dirty water contains many parasites. Give the animals clean water to drink.

· Clean the animals' housing.

On the floor and walls put a disinfectant that will kill parasites (see Booklet No. 8, page 36).


Besides parasites that live on animals' skin or in their bodies, there are many diseases which prevent animals from growing and which may even kill them.

In the animal husbandry courses on chickens, cattle, sheep and goats, we shall deal with the diseases which each kind of animal may have:

· Diseases due to germs, such as anthrax, rinderpest, pox, pneumonia.
· Diseases due to bad feeding through lack of mineral salts (see Booklet No. 8, page 17).

An animal that is badly fed, badly housed, badly looked after, resists disease badly. It is often ill.

For animals to resist disease, a good farmer must: feed them well (see Booklet No. 8, page 10); give them clean water to drink (see Booklet No. 8, page 18); house them well (see Booklet No. 8, page 34); treat their wounds (see page 5).

A good way of controlling diseases is to protect the animals by vaccination.


A child is vaccinated before it is ill in order to prevent it becoming ill.
An animal should be vaccinated before it is ill, to prevent it becoming ill.
Vaccination tires animals a little, but it is not dangerous if the animals are well housed and well fed.

For example:

Chickens are vaccinated for fowl diphtheria, fowl cholera, fowl pest.
Cows are vaccinated for pneumonia and anthrax.
Pigs are vaccinated for anthrax and swine erysipelas.
Sheep are vaccinated for anthrax and foot- and- mouth disease.
You must take all the animals to be vaccinated.
Usually vaccination is compulsory and free of charge.
If all farmers do not take their animals to be vaccinated, the animals which have not been vaccinated may catch the disease. Then the disease remains in the district.

Looking after ill animals

To look after ill animals, you must:

· Go and see the veterinary surgeon.
When a man is ill, he goes to the doctor.
When an animal is ill, ask advice from the veterinary assistant or the veterinary surgeon.
The assistant will tell you what medicine to give the animal.

· Keep the animal alone, by itself.
Because of the danger of infecting other animals.
There are two kinds of disease:

· contagious diseases
These are diseases which can pass from one animal to another.
If one animal in a herd is ill, it can give this disease to all the other animals. For example, rinderpest and anthrax are contagious diseases.

· non- contagious diseases

These are diseases which do not pass from one animal to another. If one animal is ill with such a disease, this disease is no danger to the other animals.

When an animal has a contagious disease it must be kept alone by itself.

Do not leave it with the rest of the herd. In this way you keep the disease away from the whole herd.

You must not eat the meat of animals which have died from certain contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. This disease can pass from animals to people.

You must not let your herd mix with strange herds travelling through, especially if they come from far away. Passing herds can bring diseases with them.

Do not put in your herd an animal you have bought, or which comes from elsewhere, unless you are sure it has been vaccinated. The animal may bring disease to all the herd.

To make a country's animal husbandry modern, veterinary services are necessary. All farmers should follow the advice of these services.

· Remember that a good way of controlling diseases is to give pastures a period of rest.


We have studied how plants reproduce themselves (see Booklet No. 3, page 14).

We shall now study how animals reproduce.

It is very important to study this, in order to improve animal husbandry.

When you have a good knowledge of how animals give birth to their young, of how they reproduce, you can make a better choice of the animals for breeding.

To get a good harvest, a farmer chooses good seed (see Booklet No. 3, page 24).

To get good animals, a farmer chooses good breeding stock.

To get a good harvest, a farmer chooses good varieties of seed (see Booklet No. 3, page 22).

To get good animals, a farmer chooses good breeds.

To understand how animals reproduce, we must study the reproductive organs of the females and males.

The female

The reproductive organs of the female are all inside the animal.
You can see only the entry to the system which is called the vulva.

Genital organs of the cow

Genital organs removed from cow

Flowers have ovaries which contain ovules (see Booklet No. 3, page 11).
When the ovules are fertilized by pollen, the ovules become seeds.
Female animals have two ovaries which normally produce one or more ova. (In animals the female reproductive cell is called ovum, plural ova.)
If the female is covered (served) by the male at this time, the ovum is fertilized. It develops and becomes a young one in its mother's womb.

The male

This system consists of two testicles, which hang between the hind legs, the penis, and two ducts which connect the testicles with the penis.

Reproductive organs of the bull

Stamens give the pollen that fertilizes the ovule in a flower (see Booklet No. 3, page 14).
Testicles give the semen that fertilizes the ovum.
The fertilized ovum becomes a young one in its mother's womb.

Pregnancy and birth

When the female carries a young one in her womb, we say she is pregnant. Pregnancy begins with fertilization and ends with the birth of the young animal. It lasts a shorter or longer time depending on the kind of animal.

If the mother already has a young one, she must not feed it during the last stage of pregnancy, because the baby the female is carrying needs more food (see Booklet No. 8, page 21 ). The female cannot feed both the young animal already born and the one that is growing in her womb.

Some days before the birth, the udder of the mother swells.

At the time of birth, some of the membranes which cover the baby in the womb come out. These membranes contain water. Next, you see the legs come out, either the two forelegs or the two hind legs.

Sometimes you have to pull downward a little on the legs of the young animal so as to help the birth.

When the young animal has come out, if it is still joined to the mother by the umbilical cord: cut this and clean it carefully.

After the birth, the rest of the membranes come out. They must all come out. Otherwise they may rot inside the mother and cause her to die.

At birth the calf may come out in two ways

When the young animal is born the mother licks it with her tongue.
Let her do this.
At this time the mother is often thirsty. Give her water to drink.
During the first few days after the birth, the mother's milk is thick and yellow.
The young animal must drink this milk, which will clean its digestive tract.
Take great care of new- born animals. They are delicate. They easily catch parasites and diseases.
To protect them, have them vaccinated (see page 10).
Take good care of the young animals. feed them well and house them well. Otherwise they may die and you may lose a lot of money.

Why choose?

Animals that are to produce offspring must be well chosen.

Breeding animals must be well chosen because the offspring are like the parents.

Cows that give a lot of milk usually produce females that will also give a lot of milk.

This quality is passed on from the mother (dam) to the daughter. (In animal breeding the mother is called the dam).

Pigs that grow and gain weight quickly usually produce males and females that grow and gain weight quickly.

This good quality is passed on from the dam to her young ones.

Sheep that have well- developed bones and muscles usually produce offspring that have well- developed bones and muscles.

This good quality is passed on from the dam to her young ones.

Pigs that grow and gain weight quickly, that have well- developed bones and muscles, usually produce offspring that grow and gain weight quickly, that have well- developed bones and muscles.

The young ones often have the good qualities of their father (sire). (In animal breeding the father is called the sire.)

Bulls born from a cow that gave a lot of milk often sire females that will also give a lot of milk.

The good qualities of the bull's dam are often passed on to the bull's daughter.

Cattle that have little resistance to sleeping sickness produce calves that have little resistance to this disease.

The parents' bed quality is passed on to their young.

A badly formed pig with poorly developed bones and muscles often produces badly formed offspring.

The parents' bad qualities are passed on to their young.

The good qualities of the male and the female are often passed on to their young.

The bad qualities of the male and the female are also passed on to their young.

So it is very important to make a good choice of males and females.

It is easier to improve a herd by a good choice of male.

A female passes on her good qualities to a few offspring each year.

A male passes on his good qualities to all the offspring of the herd.

· A male should not produce young from one of his daughters.

The offspring would not be of good quality.

How to choose

If you want to have animals that are strong for work; that give a lot of milk; that gain weight quickly and make plenty of meat, you must choose breeding animals that are:

· well formed.

You must eat or sell all poorly developed animals. Keep animals that have plenty of muscle. The muscles of the back and rump are the most important, because they give the best meat.

· resistant to disease.

For example, do not raise zebu cattle in forest country where there is tsetse fly.

· good producers.

It is important to choose animals that produce a lot. For example: pigs that gain weight quickly; cows that give a lot of milk; chickens that lay plenty of eggs; ewes that produce two lambs.

· not too young or too old.

A breeding animal that is too young, not yet fully grown, gets tired, does not gain weight. It becomes a bad breeder. Its offspring will be poorly nourished, for a female cannot both feed the young she is carrying, and go on growing herself.


In a herd very few males are used.
One bull is enough for a herd of cattle.
One billy goat is enough for a flock of goats.
Keep only the best.
The other males of the herd must be castrated.

Either remove the testicles (see page 15) or crush the ducts which connect the testicles to the penis. The animal husbandry service and the veterinary assistants have instruments for castrating bulls.

After castration they are quieter, they are not vicious, they put on weight more quickly, the meat is better. They cannot fertilize the females; in this way you prevent poor breeding animals from reproducing, and can leave them in the herd.

Animals must be castrated when they are young, before they can breed. They grow faster. Their meat is better.

How to know your herd

We saw that the good and bad qualities of the sire and dam are passed to their offspring.

In modern animal husbandry we look for breeding animals of good quality. But we also look for animals whose parents and grandparents were of good quality. The family qualities are passed on to the young. This is what we mean by selection.

Modern farmers keep a herd book. Give a number to each animal in the herd. This number is the animal's name. Mark the number on the animal's rump or ears. Use a double page of the book for each animal. Write in the book everything you need to know about your animals.

A modern stock farmer has a good knowledge of his herd. He makes a good choice of breeding animals. He makes his capital productive (see Booklet No. 8, page 8). He earns more money.


No. of animal

Year of birth



No. of sire

No. of dam


1st No. of sire ..............................................................................

Date of service .......................................................................
No. of offspring .....................................................................
No. of deaths before weaning .............................................

2nd No. of sire .............................................................................

Date of service .....................................................................


and disease 4th

Two pages of a herd book recording a female.


No. of animal

Year of birth

No. of sire

No. of dam

No. of femaleDate

First of two pages of herd book in which each male is recorded.
The second page is the same as for females (see preceding page).


· Selection is very important especially of the male.

In one year the sire will produce a lot of offspring.

· The best way to improve your stock raising is selection of male breeding animals.


Production of stock is not enough. You have to sell.
It is not enough to have a fine herd. You must be able to sell your animals at the right time, at a good price.

Animals are sold for their meat.

Often live animals are sold by their size. They are not weighed. The price is not fixed according to the animal's weight.

Sometimes animals are slaughtered and the meat is sold in the village or at the market. No attention is paid to the weight or the quality of the meat.

Nowadays meat should be sold by weight. Several farmers can get together to buy a weighing machine.

It is easy to sell your animals at the time of traditional festivals. A stock farmer should arrange for the sale of animals for these festivals.

But apart from these festivals you may have difficulty in finding buyers. You may have to keep for a long time animals which are ready to be sold. You have to go on feeding them uselessly,, the animals do not benefit from the food, and you lose money.

Animals are sold for breeding.

We saw that it is very important to have good breeding animals (see pages 18 and 19).
Animals of a good breed that have good parents can be sold at a high price.

Modern farmers are ready to spend money to buy a good sire to improve their herd.

Young animals are sold for fattening.

They can be sold at a higher price because they will earn money for whoever raises them.

A good breeder does not keep his animals too long.
He sells his lambs at about 6 months.
He sells his pigs at between 8 and 12 months.
He sells his bullocks at 4 years.
It is useless to keep animals too long; they do not get any bigger.
All the feed that you give them is not changed into meat.
Sell your animals as soon as they are big enough. A breeding animal that is too old has less good' offspring.
Then you will have enough food to raise younger ones.
The yield of your herd will be better (see page 29).

All the animals of the same kind do not yield the same amount of meat.
For example:
Two cows each weigh 250 kilogrammes.
They are slaughtered.
The blood, skin, hoofs, head and everything in the belly are removed.
What remains is called the carcass, that is, the meat with the bones.
Now let us weigh the carcass of each cow.
One weighs 115 kg; the other weighs 134 kg.
So the carcass of one cow weighs 19 kg more than that of the other: the yield in meat of the two cows is different.
All cows do not give the same amount of meat.
The meat yield of an animal is the relation of the carcass weight to the weight of the live animal.
If a cow weighs 250 kg and if the carcass weighs 115 kg, the yield is: 115x100/250 = 46%
If a cow weighs 250 kg and if the carcass weighs 134 kg, the yield is: 134x100/250 = 54 %
If a sheep weighs 25 kg and if the carcass weighs 11 kg, the yield is 11x100/25 = 44%
If a pig weighs 40 kg and if the carcass weighs 26 kg, the yield is: 26x100/40 = 65%
All animals do not give the same quality of meat.
The meat of an old, thin animal does not fetch such a high price as the meat of a young animal, because it is not of good quality.
The meat of a fine, young animal is of very good quality.
So all animals are not worth the same price.
The price changes with the amount of meat and with the quality of meat.
For example, in some places, a thin, sterile cow is worth about 7 500 francs, but a fat, sterile cow of the same age is worth about 15 000 francs.
It is better to make 30 000 francs with two animals of 15 000 francs each, than 22 500 francs with three animals at 7 500 francs each.
You can earn more by selling fewer animals, if each animal is sold at a very high price.

The yield of a herd

If you can sell each year many fat animals, the herd is said to have a good yield.

A herd has a good yield:

· if you raise animals of a good breed.

The animal husbandry service is finding out which breeds produce most and thrive best in each region.

· if the animals grow quickly.

On the same pasture, all the animals do not gain weight as quickly as each other.

You should keep only the offspring of males and females that have grown quickly.

· if there are many dams which give birth each year.

You must sell the old dams because they do not produce young any more, they do not put on weight any more, and they eat a lot

You must also sell the surplus males; they eat but are no use.

You must keep the most fertile dams and make them breed.

A fertile dam gives birth every year.

· if the animals are well cared for,

If you take good care of the herd, all the young grow up and become strong animals.

Then you can sell them and earn a lot.

If many of the young animals die, the farmer does not earn as much as he could.

In Africa many young animals die because of lack of care.

Even if diseases do not kill the animals, they do them a lot of harm.

The animals become very weak and do not fatten much.

It takes a long time for animals that have been to fatten up for sale.

If animals are well fed, and have enough to drink all the year, they quickly become big and heavy.

If they are badly fed, and if they do not drink enough during the dry season, they lose a lot of weight.

Animals lose in the dry season kilogrammes they have put on in the rainy season.

Farmers' groups

· Farmers do well to form groups (see Booklet No. 7, page 28); this gives them greater strength in regard to dealers.

A dealer will readily go out into the bush to buy animals if he is sure of finding some. He knows that he will not make his journey for nothing, and that he will not waste his time looking for animals.

A group of farmers can make an arrangement with the dealer.

Every month or every week the group will sell him a certain number of animals

The group agrees to sell regularly.

The dealer agrees to buy regularly

To succeed, a group must:

· not be too big. Everyone knows each other and everyone trusts the others
· have simple and clear rules.
· have one man in charge who makes sure that the rules are kept

It is in the interest of farmers to get together not only for sales, but also in raising their stock. Fences will be made more quickly. feeding will be more regular. Sales will be easier.

By organizing the sale of their animals, farmers can organize their stock raising.

· They can plan the birth dates with a view to the sales dates.
· They can plan what feeding the herd will need, the use of pastures, so that no food is wasted.
· They know at what time they will get money, and can better think about what they will do with it.

Here is a practical example of what the course means.

A local pig, raised in the traditional way, eats what it can find in the bush. At one year it weighs 30 kg. Its sale price is 30 X 100 francs = 3 000 francs

A local pig is well housed, and gets fed once a day. At one year it weighs 60 kg. Its sales price is 60 X 100 francs = 6 000 francs.

A pig of improved breed is well housed, and is fed twice a day. At one year, it weighs 100 kg. Its sale price is 100 X 100 francs = 10 000 francs

Suggested question paper


Animals in good health are well ..............................,well ..................... and well.............................
To prevent animals falling ill, a good farmer..............................them..............................
If an animal has a contagious disease, the farmer keeps it ..............................and asks advice from the..............................
A good farmer chooses have fine offspring.
He keeps for information about each animal.
He chooses a good................................which will pass good to all the young of the herd
The male animals which are not kept for breeding are..............................
A good farmer also organizes the sale of his . .. .....
He sells animals that are too..............................which do not fatten any more.
With other farmers of the village he forms a..............................


Can the qualities of the male pass on to its young?
What is a parasite?
What is pregnancy
When an animal has an injury, what do you do?
Why must your herd be vaccinated?
What do you do when you have an ill animal?
Explain to a friend why you only keep one good male to a herd.
Explain to your friends why you must get together to sell your animals.
Did this course on animal husbandry (Booklets Nos. 8 and 9) interest you?
What is most useful to you?