Livestock management

The livestock industry and value chain employ about 1.3 billion people worldwide, i.e. almost 40% of the active population (ILO, 2011 and Thornton, 2009), directly supporting the livelihoods of 800 million poor smallholders. Livestock products provide 17% of the calorie consumption at the global level, and 33% of the protein in human diets. The demand for animal products is rapidly increasing in LDC, because of the galloping demography and the rise in the standard of living. By 2050 the global demand for dairy and meat is projected to increase by 74% and 58% respectively, and a large part of this demand will originate from developing countries. Such increased demand will certainly impact the effect of the livestock sector on the environment, climate change and land use. Currently, it is estimated that livestock directly and indirectly occupies 30% of ice free terrestrial surface and that this activity shapes the landscapes, modifying and reducing natural habitats (FAO, 2006). 18% of the total anthropogenic emissions come from the livestock sector, i.e. about 7.1 Gt CO2-eq (FAO, 2006).

Several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of livestock exist. In many areas of the world, crops and livestock compete for the same resources, and require proper management to meet conservation agriculture objectives. Synergistic integration of crops and livestock offers numerous advantages. Farming systems that successfully integrate crop and livestock enterprises stand to gain synergies that directly impact production and agro-ecological efficiencies.