Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Chapter 5

Husbandry techniques

A traditional approach to animal production focuses on what is called "disciplinary" aspects, such as animal feeding, breeding, health, housing, animal behaviour, farm economics and product processing. These aspects are discussed in this and the following chapter to illustrate some of the problems and opportunities of livestock production in terms of disciplinary approaches.


Feeding strategies in urban areas vary according to such factors as social categories, animal species, household income and distance to the city centre. An important difference between animals is the distinction between ruminants such as cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep, which eat feeds rich in fibre (grass, hay, straw), and monogastrics such as chickens, ducks and pigs. Resource-rich livestock-keeping families feed their animals to reach certain production levels and can buy as much feed as they need. Resource-poor farmers make the best of what they have. They lack the financial means to buy commercial feed and the labour availability to collect or cut feed while producing fewer household residues. In most urban areas, roadsides and empty plots on the outskirts are a source of cut grass, and are also used to produce green fodder (pigeon pea, alfalfa); in addition, cereal or vegetable residues are sometimes used. Fodder markets import feed from outside, especially in more centrally situated areas that have limited space for fodder production. Although even in the most built-up areas it is possible to establish small plots (gardens), and even roofs can be used, in urban conditions green feeds and fibrous crop residues tend to be relatively scarce. When (green) fodder is scarce, farmers can either turn to raising smaller animals (goats or sheep instead of cows or buffaloes) or buy concentrates (rice bran, oilseed cakes, commercial meals). By-products such as kitchen wastes, hotel leftovers or waste from the canning industry and beer brewers can also be useful, even in the keeping of such large ruminants as cows and buffaloes. All of this puts the animals into a useful ecological niche: that of cleaners of waste products. Animals help to reduce the organic matter of the waste and they do not add a particular nutrient load unless large amounts of feed are imported. The scale of animal keeping is, of course, related to the amounts and kinds of feed available; when feeds for animal production are imported, nutrient surpluses can occur, leading to environmental problems.

Depending on the animal species and type of production involved, three major feeding systems can be distinguished. These are based on the use of household wastes and agro-industrial by-products, roughage and concentrates, respectively.


Fodder grass for sale at a feed market in south Khartoum (the Sudan) will be fed to dairy cows and horses


Groundnut hulls at the same Khartoum market are a source of fibre in concentrate-rich ruminant rations

Systems based on household waste and agro-industrial by-products

Poultry, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigeons and even fish in small units are mostly fed household wastes. These units can be found everywhere: in city centres, in backyards, on balconies and on rooftops. Larger units use industrial by-products and commercial feeds, especially concentrates (Table 14). UAM (1999) estimates that 4 000 tonnes of food wastes are used every day in Mexico City alone, and the data in Table 14 show how many of the city's pig farmers use kitchen wastes. These farmers collect wastes from bakeries, restaurants and the kitchens of communal institutions, just as Western European farmers did in recent times. The wastes used include kitchen wastes, stale bread and tortilla, leftover tortilla dough, chicken guts, and fruit and vegetable wastes from the markets.

It is estimated that 100 tonnes of fruit and vegetable wastes are used by approximately 2 500 cows, producing 37 500 litres of milk a day. These wastes include maize husks, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and radish and broccoli foliage; carrots, beetroots, maize and Castillean squash that are unsuitable for human consumption are also available.

Important waste products for pigs and dairy animals are brewers' grain and rejected bananas or pineapples from canning factories. Small units of such species as rabbits can be fed diets that are based entirely on wastes and some roughage. Units in Sokoto (Nigeria) have between 3 and 19 animals, 60 percent of them having fewer than ten (Hassan and Owolabi, 1996). These rabbits are fed on garden trimmings and leftovers, kitchen wastes, grains, lettuce, carrot leaves, other leafy vegetables and Amaranthus ("tropical spinach") cultivated on small plots.


Vegetable waste from this market in the hills of Central Java (Indonesia) feeds a range of local animals


An urban rabbit and goat keeper in Malang (Indonesia) carries home feed collected from a neighbourhood tree that had been felled


Dietary components of backyard poultry, pigs and dairy cattle in Mexico City (% of producers using each)


Kitchen wastes

Wheat bran

Bakery sweepings

Hard tortilla

Maize grain

Commercial feed


Grass (pasture)




























Dairy cattle









Source: UAM (1999)

Roughage-based systems

Feeding of large herbivorous species (sheep, goats, cattle, buffaloes) in urban areas is complex, because a large proportion of their ration has to be fibre in order to ensure a good functioning of the digestive system. Roughage such as straws and grasses contains a lot of fibre, but in urban conditions these feeds are generally expensive. They are rarely produced inside cities, and the costs of transport (from rural areas) and storage of bulky fodders are high. However, urban production systems using expensive roughage can be profitable in particular circumstances, including:

Sometimes only 20 to 30 percent roughage is fed, and the roughage is bought at prices that are often higher than those paid for concentrates (see Table 11 in Chapter 3).

The roughage needs of small species such as rabbits can easily be satisfied, particularly if they are kept in small numbers. Moreover, rabbits, fish, birds, pigs and other omnivorous species need very little roughage, although pigs can digest diets containing a considerable proportion of fibre (20 to 30 percent). Vegetable waste is very useful for pigs, provided that the growth rates and meat gradings aimed at are not based on other production circumstances.



When higher levels of milk, meat or draught output per animal are desired and economically attractive, high levels of supplementation are required. This decreases the intake of straw and other roughage, which are substituted by supplements. Substitution rates of more than 0.5 kg of straw per kilogram of concentrate supplement are not uncommon. This means that the expected and theoretical production potential of a supplement cannot be realized fully, as shown in the following calculation: 1 kg of a concentrate mixture containing 0.64 kg of total dietary nutrients (TDN) gives a theoretical output of 2 litres of milk - milk production requiring approximately 0.32 kg of TDN per litre. If the concentrate mixture is replaced with 0.5 kg of roughage dry matter containing 0.25 kg of TDN, the net effect will be only 0.39 kg of TDN, giving 1.2 litres of milk. This so-called substitution effect is acceptable, however, if high levels of production are economically attractive, or when relatively expensive straw is replaced with less expensive concentrate.


A farmer on the outskirts of Cairo (Egypt) feeds her buffalo with green fodder collected at the roadside or bought at local markets

Concentrate-based systems

These systems concern mainly intensive and specialized poultry, pig and dairy units in peri-urban areas. The concentrates are often imported or made from local grain and oilseed milling by-products. Locally produced commercial feeds are often too expensive to serve as full ration feeds, and adulteration is common. As a result poultry, pig and dairy farmers in some regions tend to use concentrates as supplements to rations based on waste products, thereby focusing on economic issues rather than nutrient-use efficiency. Research and extension could be made more relevant to this by studying the economic effect of different waste-product mixtures rather than concentrating on ways to achieve biological maximum levels. Whereas in Western countries much attention is paid to increased nitrogen balances and standard economic efficiencies, in tropical conditions it is important to understand the economics of small versus large farmers. Moreover, the problem of nutrient disposal in urban conditions probably has little to do with nitrogen or phosphate concentrations, and more with the periods when and the form in which dung becomes available: chicken dung can be fairly dry and easy to manage; pig dung tends to be thin; and cow dung can sometimes be separated into solid and liquid fractions. Other issues of concentrate-based rations to be addressed are the occurrence of micotoxins (caused by moulds) and chemical residues in the feed. Where legislation is ineffective there seems to be little point in establishing laboratories; collective action and education will have to be part and parcel of legislative measures.

Feed efficiency

There is a tendency to think that high production levels go together with a high feed efficiency. However, feed efficiency can be defined in different ways. If all inputs (breed, feed, housing, veterinary care) are adapted to a high production level (for instance fast growth), even the use of such concentrates as grains that are also valuable for human consumption may be economically efficient if the farmer is rich and if there is a cereal surplus. In other circumstances, for instance if cereals are imported and many farmers are poor, the use of expensive cereals as concentrate, expensive housing, veterinary care, etc. might soon cause greater farmer poverty and accelerated cereal price increases, leading to a declining demand for meat and decreasing revenues. Maximum efficiency will only be attained when locally available resources are used as much as possible by as many as possible resource-poor local producers, even if production levels are low (Table 15; see also Table 10 in Chapter 3). When even relatively low gains on otherwise useless "waste" are attained, high feed efficiencies can be achieved and live weight gain is obtained without, or with very low, concentrate costs.

Table 15 gives an example of the effect of concentrate supplementation on production and economic parameters. Live weight gain increases with supplementation, but feed becomes more expensive. If no concentrates are fed, the margin (benefits minus feed costs) is positive when the live weight value exceeds SL R 7.3/kg; if concentrates are fed, the margin is positive when the live weight value is more than 12.6 SL R/kg. If, instead of roughage, only waste is fed, the margin is always positive as long as the animals gain weight without supplementation; with supplementation the margin becomes positive when the value of live weight exceeds 10 SL R/kg.

In this respect, the reorientation of planners and technical staff can bring about great changes in government policies, resource use efficiency and the redirection of research and development priorities so that they allocate all funds and attention to rapid high gains rather than to efficient production (Arias, 2000).


Effects of supplementing medium-quality roughage rations with coconut cake: growing bulls (150 kg live weight) in Sri Lanka


Coconut cake level
(kg/day per animal, air-dried basis)




Total intake (kg/day)



- Roughage/waste intake (kg/day)



- Concentrate intake (kg/day)



Live weight gain (LWG) (kg/day)



Feed conversion ratio (kg total feed/ kg LWG)



Concentrate conversion ratio (kg concentrate/kg LWG)



Feed cost (Sri Lankan rupees (SL R)/day)



- Roughage cost (SL R/day)



- Concentrate cost (SL R/day)



Feed efficiency (kg LWG/feed cost)



Concentrate efficiency (kg LWG/concentrate cost)



"Break-even" live weight value (SL R/kg LWG)



1 1 kg of concentrates substitutes 0.5 kg of roughage/waste (see Box 3).

Source: Based on Schiere and Nell (1993).



An efficient reproductive performance is important for the sustainability of animal production systems. It is essential for the provision of replacement animals and, in the case of dairy animals, the regular production of calves is also necessary for milk production. In cities, however, feed is expensive, space is limited and, as a result, any reproduction that does not generate immediate revenues represents an additional management burden. Simple solutions include the "externalization" of reproduction, under which dry cows are taken to the countryside to conceive and calve again and poultry breeding takes place even further away. Efforts to make stressed city animals conceive through the use of hormones are of limited benefit: they may be successful but tend to exhaust cows more quickly, making them fit only for early slaughter. More efficient production can be achieved when breeding takes place in better climates or in places where land and labour are cheaper. One way of saving resources and securing foreign genes is artificial insemination. In urban conditions, the importance of reproductive management varies depending largely on the types of animals involved and the scale of inputs and outputs.

Rabbit reproduction is essentially an on-farm activity. Local breeds can be improved through selection of the best local animals or through selective distribution of breeding animals from elsewhere. Commercial poultry gets its breeding stock from specialized and highly commercial units (see Photo 16, in Chapter 2), and has little scope for local breeding programmes. Backyard chickens, as with rabbits, can take care of their own reproduction, and are a good point of entry for the establishment of local breeders' groups; an approach that can also be taken to the breeding of goats and sheep. Cow or buffalo operations tend to obtain young stock from rather informal markets in the countryside, which are often hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away. Breeding policies for such animals should not be directed at urban farms but at the source of cattle supply.

Whether in cities or villages, poor or rich families, the choice of breeds should be adapted to local conditions in order to obtain optimal results. Imported European high-performance breeds (which require expensive concentrate feeds and special housing), when introduced to local conditions, will often produce even less than local animals.

Part of the reproduction process is the rearing of young animals. Again, this is often done in the countryside or even in other countries. Typically, good results can be achieved by paying attention to hygiene, particularly when small animals such as rabbits are concerned.



For several years in the 1970s and 1980s this programme focused - in a very participatory manner - on the improvement of local cereal growing, cash crops and livestock. Much success was achieved with a cross-breeding programme through which calves were obtained and sold on to distant urban dairy systems as far away as Mumbai. The programme thus had an indirect effect on production elsewhere. (R.K. Patel, C.B. Singh and J.P. Dhaka, pers. comm., 1990.)



A typical example of social organization for animal breeding can be seen when people are provided with young animals to rear prior to passing them on to colleagues or back to the distributing organization. Heifer Project International1 is an organization that has much experience with such programmes. Local merchants employ the same system and many savings systems across the world are based on this principle: poor people feed somebody else's cow, goat or pig and keep, as payment, the young of which they rear for themselves.

1 Heifer Project International, PO Box 8058, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203, United States. Tel.: 501 907 2600, (800) 422 0474.



The rearing of rabbits around Malang (East Java, Indonesia) tended to consist of frequent litters, i.e. each rabbit produced young almost every month. The young were sold as pet animals at the age of three weeks, when their chances of survival are minimal. In fact, the farmers' aim was to sell the young before they died as a result of, among other factors, intestinal parasite infection which killed large parts of the litters. This was not considered a serious problem for the children of wealthier families whose interest in their newly acquired pets tended to last for only a few days. However, it did mean that the rabbits were not producing any meat. The replacement of deep litter in the rabbit hutches with wire or bamboo slatted floors helped to improve this situation considerably. Such floors allow the urine and dung to drop to the ground under the hutch and the rabbits' health improved to such an extent that it became viable to raise the kittens until an older age when they could be sold as meat animals. Management- (i.e. hygiene) rather than input- (medicine and feed) based technologies made the difference.


When local breeding is concerned, it is important to distinguish between natural and artificial breeding. There are two types of natural breeding: free mating in the range or controlled mating. In the former system, male rabbits detect when a female is on heat, and females are usually mated several times during each heat period. One male can cover 40 to 50 cows per year, provided there is no marked seasonality in the occurrence of heat. In controlled mating, it is the farmer who carries out heat detection and decides when matings should occur. In these cases, a doe is mated once or twice during each heat period, and a buck can be used on three to four does per week or 150 to 200 does per year. Free mating in rabbits can be disastrous because the females bear too many litters, become exhausted very quickly and produce weak kittens. Mating at too young an age, for example in goats and sheep, is also detrimental to the future performance of the animal. Some form of mating control is therefore essential.

Artificial insemination (AI) is the most important reproductive technology in many livestock production systems in temperate and tropical regions. With AI, one ejaculate from a bull can be used to serve 400 to 500 cows and, under optimal circumstances, one bull can produce sufficient semen for more than 50 000 cows a year. Advantages of AI are that farmers do not have to undergo the costs or hazards of rearing breeding bulls, and have access to a very wide range of bulls. Furthermore, many infectious reproductive diseases can be controlled by the use of AI. On the other hand, the disadvantages of AI include high overhead costs for centralized breeding centres, equipment, personnel and training. AI also requires good infrastructure, semen distribution, field inseminators and, if frozen semen is used, a regular supply of liquid nitrogen. Farmers must also be educated in heat detection and the timing of service, and a reliable system of communication with the AI service has to be in place. AI is especially suitable for livestock in peri-urban areas, if at all, in developing countries.

Reproductive problems in urban livestock are quite common as a result of production stress, a shortage of male animals, poor management on the part of farmers, etc. Many methods are available to detect reproductive disorders, including improved farmer skills and hormone injection (which is an accelerating technology because it wears the animals down even more than treating symptoms would do). More modern reproductive technologies are also available to livestock breeders. However, only a few of these technologies can be applied to tropical (smallholder) dairy systems, AI being an example that is used in certain areas. Embryo transfer (ET) is a still more exotic technique that involves the use of certain females as donors of embryos that are then implanted in recipients (surrogate mothers). This allows the preferred animals to produce many more calves during their lifetimes than would be possible by natural means.

Heat detection itself is difficult in tropical stress situations and it requires close observation. More recently, heat can be detected by measuring the concentration of a hormone such as progesterone. Small amounts of the hormone are present in blood and milk, and techniques such as radio-immunoassay and enzyme-immunoassay enable these to be observed closely for heat. Animals can then be mated at the correct time. This process is also used in pregnancy diagnosis, a method that requires skilled technicians.



Ram Kumar, an urban dairy farmer in Bangalore (India) knows all the breeding records of modern American and European bulls. He buys expensive semen to fertilize his cows. This saves only relatively little expense on the keeping of a local bull, but it provides important revenue from breeding animals that are pure-bred from imported semen. Some farmers prefer such animals, believing that high production implies high profits, an attitude that is quite justified for urban dairy farmers. Ram Kumar purchases and keeps the semen himself; existing AI services, which are generally government-operated, tend to be unreliable and are typical candidates for privatization.

Management of (re)production

Records are an indispensable component of modern farming management. Carefully recorded observations avoid the likelihood of supporting unproductive animals with such inputs as feed and housing. Practical farmers often remember important management information, even if they do not write it down. However, failure to keep records can lead to the loss of important information. In addition, farmers may not be able to identify heat signs, recognize disease sufficiently well, etc., so it is useful to encourage that at least a simple system of identification and recording be followed. Women play an important role in this activity, and the least a farmer can do is to maintain a record of calvings and dates of littering/farrowing, vaccinations, etc.

Other important aspects of management are:

Chickens can easily be selected by checking whether they are actually laying or not (through observation of the cloaca, colour of the legs, etc.). Early detection of disease and disorder is essential. Most important may be the choice of animals; genetic characteristics of the animals must be compatible with the environment and the available resources, including the knowledge and skills of the farmers.



A schoolteacher in the suburbs of Kisumu (Kenya) became interested in chicken keeping after he noticed that the family flock had been decimated in one day by predators. The first thing he did was to protect his young chicks during the day by keeping them under a moveable basket. He allowed them to scavenge for a few hours in the evenings. After he had noticed the success of this relatively easy form of management he developed an interest in increasing the hatching rate of the eggs. In the past, the reproduction process had been left entirely to the chickens themselves. Now the schoolteacher started to mark on the eggs with a pencil to record the day they were laid and the hen from which they came. He took the largest and freshest eggs from the best birds and placed them under a broody chicken. As a result, his flock started producing better, he claimed to get stronger chicks and his family was able to eat and sell more chickens. Eventually the family became known for this and acquired fame and status in the village for having better birds. Recording and reproductive management helped this family to become real breeders, and neighbours were willing to pay more for their roosters and female birds.


Animal health and food safety

In urban livestock systems, the close association of people and animals causes special risks in terms of zoonoses. These are diseases that affect both animals and humans, for example, parasites, tuberculosis, brucellosis and anthrax. Furthermore, special feeding conditions and high animal densities may cause special metabolic disorders (acid rumens) and animal welfare problems (see following section on Animal welfare). This section will discuss only a few specific cases.

African swine fever. This is a virulent tick-borne disease in pig breeds which was introduced to Africa hundreds of years ago. The virus naturally exists in warthogs, which are little affected, and in a tick that lives in the burrows of these wild pigs. The virus is spread to other regions by living animals, meat, meat products, swill and dung. In recent years the virus was introduced into West Africa where it caused catastrophic losses among domestic pigs in countries such as Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. The disease has become endemic in parts of West Africa, Latin America and Europe. In new unexposed pig populations the infection is fierce, killing the majority of the infected pigs.

African swine fever is a "List A disease" of the International Office of Epizootics. Infected countries are expected to take measures to control the disease. However, no vaccine exists and the only way of combating the disease is to kill all the animals in the affected region. This approach is usually bound to fail, as it is not in the interest of (poor) pig keepers who hide their animals or otherwise fail to cooperate with this kind of measure.

Indeed, many backyard pig breeders live in shanty towns, where veterinary control is often repressive rather than being a service. In addition, undertakings to compensate for destroyed pigs are often not kept. Ideally the decision to stamp out the disease through wide-scale slaughter should be taken democratically and the population should be compensated for losses.

Cisticercosis. Cisticercosis is a tapeworm infection (Taenia solium) that passes from animals to human beings. It is prevalent in both rural and urban areas and is closely related to the economic standard, aspects of hygiene and the way animals and people share the same living space. Major problems with this disease occur in Latin America and non-Islamic parts of Africa and Asia, especially India. In heavily infected animals, small cisticercus cysts, which are the larvae of the tapeworm, can be felt in the pig's tongue. The population has no general understanding of how pigs get the cysts, but in places where people know about the disease, the price that can be fetched by such an affected pig is considerably lower than that for a pig without cysts.

In some regions, between 15 and 60 percent of the pigs kept in traditional systems have cisticercosis. Pigs become infected when they eat human excrement. Free-roaming pigs, particularly when there is a lack of latrines, are important in the reproductive cycle of the parasite. Infections do not occur in intensive pig keeping, where the animals are raised in an enclosed space and cannot eat human excrement. People get tapeworms when they eat uncooked meat that contains cysts. In a population, the percentage of people harbouring the Taenia is an indication of the number of eggs in the environment. The World Health Organization considers that it has become a serious problem when more than 1 percent of the human population is infected. The parasite becomes dangerous when eggs from human waste infect another human and a large larval cyst starts to grow. In humans this larval stage could develop in the brain, damaging brain tissue, causing headaches and epilepsy. In Bolivia, for example, many cases that have been diagnosed as epilepsy are, in fact, neurocisticercosis. There is no cure once the cysts have been formed.

The problem is considerable and provokes the questions: who is responsible and who can control it? Increased general awareness about the problem may well be one of the keys to this issue, as well as measures on the part of the municipalities. Non-governmental organizations, health workers, schoolteachers and extensionists should all be aware of the problem and the possibilities for preventing it. Preparing pig meat by deep frying or cooking diminishes the risk of transmitting the parasite. Latrines can help to prevent the mixing of human excrement with pig feed. Clearly, a participatory and interdisciplinary approach is needed, including efforts from the medical and veterinary sciences, as well as from municipalities and producer groups. Top-down approaches, which view extensive pig production as backwards and aim to replace it with intensive pig production systems, do not understand the origin of this zoonosis, which is poverty in the marginal rural and urban areas.


At the weekly Punata market (Bolivia), women inspect pigs' tongues for cisticercus cysts, receiving a small fee for each pig


Specially designed latrines in Latin America and Southeast Asia produce dry compost and are important tools in the struggle against zoonoses and other diseases

Newcastle disease. Newcastle disease (NCD) occurs throughout the world and is a major cause of mortality in traditional, extensive and intensive chicken production systems. During an epidemic, the disease can cause mortality rates of between 65 and 100 percent. After an outbreak the disease usually disappears for several years, but returns to cause high mortality once all the birds have become susceptible again. The insecurity of occasional sudden high mortalities often discourages families from keeping poultry. NCD is generally introduced via infected chickens bought at markets. The disease then spreads rapidly through contact among the chickens, or between humans and chickens. The higher the number of chickens, and the closer the households, the more rapidly the disease spreads. The symptoms are sudden death, respiratory difficulties and nervous symptoms in birds that have survived the first part of the disease.

Poultry farmers try to control the disease with all kinds of traditional products based on plant roots, leaves and barks, as well as with human medicines, including aspirin. In Latin America, therapies and prevention strategies are often based on lemon juice, but indigenous technical medicines are often not completely effective in combating infectious diseases. Commercial vaccines that are excellent ways of preventing NCD are available, but these are developed for mainly indoor use in large-scale commercial enterprises. Vaccination of small numbers of scavenging chickens is hampered by the fact that each animal has to be caught individually to receive an eye drop of vaccine. Moreover, the vaccine has to be used within a few hours of resuspension and has to be kept at a low temperature. NCD-prevention programmes can be successful but they require that groups of chicken keepers be organized. Typically, this is a woman's activity which can also serve other development activities. It is imperative that vaccines are developed to suit the small farmer. Thermo-stable vaccines have been developed, but these still require that the chickens be handled individually, a problem with scavenging birds.

Animal welfare

Animal welfare seems to be a concern for wealthy countries only. However, it is not just a luxury since the well-being of animals is reflected in their output. Good health, good feeding, good housing and an absence of stress help to maintain the output, but there are trade-offs. For example, animals may feel more at ease when they are left out to pasture or scavenge, but these conditions imply a greater system stress in terms of parasite load, damage to gardens, nitrogen emissions, etc. Protocols and methodologies are now being developed in Western countries to find a balance between these positive and negative aspects. It is also becoming increasingly clear that high output is not strictly correlated to animal well-being: in many countries it is forbidden to keep animals in cages or to "maim" them unnecessarily, such as by debeaking or dehorning.

Animal welfare is not exclusively a Western issue. In developing countries, particularly in India, there is a strong lobby for the well-being of animals. In cities there are farms where old cows are kept until they die, and activists work hard to improve the lot of animals, for example, by introducing improved harnesses for the bullocks, horses or donkeys that pull carts. Other typical measures include the protection of animals' hooves against hard road surfaces (Photo 45) and the introduction of regular watering and feeding and the avoidance of heat stress.

Other, perhaps unlikely, examples of non-Western concern for animal welfare concerns include:

Much can be done to increase awareness of these issues. In both Western and tropical societies, a growing category of consumers and producers question the validity of intensive animal production systems. Apart from leading to such problems as diseases (African and classic swine fever, BSE, foot-and-mouth disease) and pollution, which are inherent to specialized and intensive farming, these systems provoke resistance because of their industrial character. Indeed, animal welfare has been neglected too long, and products produced in environmental and animal-friendly ways are becoming increasingly popular, even though more expensive. They generate opportunities for urban and rural producers, in developed as well as developing countries.



Experiences in the Caribbean give an interesting example of the application of knowledge developed through a creative farmer-experimentation process. Since the 1980s, commercial and backyard poultry farmers in Trinidad and Tobago have been rediscovering the value of ethnoveterinary medicine because of economic problems that make commercial medicines almost unavailable. The plants used for ethnoveterinary medicine are easily available and small quantities are usually enough to treat reduced appetite, respiratory conditions, ectoparasites, endoparasites (worms), eye injuries and internal injuries. In most cases, the medicinal plants and/or extracts are put into the drinking-water, which is changed daily. (See also Lans, 2001.)

BOX 10


The news from Europe that thousands of cows infected with BSE were to be killed almost caused public uproar in India, especially when it became clear that the disease is caused by feeding bone-meal to cows. In India, these animals are venerated by the majority of the (mostly vegetarian) population and it is unacceptable that they should be made to eat products of animal origin. It was even proposed that special shelters be created for infected cows from Europe.


Pieces of old car tyre are used to adapt oxen to tarred roads and urban life (Indonesia)

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page