Rural livestock production encompasses all phases of the management of rural cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goat and draught animals in a scientific and desirable way according to the modern husbandry techniques. The latest innovations demand that their management should be understood correctly and should be given due importance if the production from the animals is desired up to their genetic potentials. It also embraces the avenues covering their proper and timely natural breeding or artificial insemination, balanced feeding, their proper and hygienic housing, adequate vaccination programs, proper disease cover and first-aid kits, manure handling and pollution control.
Out of 137 million people in the country 92 million (67 %) live in the rural areas while 45 million (33 %) dwell in the urban areas. Livestock production is the second biggest economic activity after crop husbandry for rural people in the country. The activities of this sub-sector account for 10-25 % of the income of small farmers and landless livestock producers. Unless we take care of the rural livestock, the production potential of such a huge number of animals can’t be enhanced. The people’s land holdings gradually are getting smaller day by day creating a competitive atmosphere between crop and livestock sector, which ultimately ends in another game of food versus increasing human population. The latest situation regarding the number and area of private farms as classified by size has been reported by Census of Agriculture, 1990, which is presented below (Table 1).
Table 1. Land Holdings in Pakistan.
Size of the Farm in hectares (ha)
No. of Farms
Av size of Farm Area
More than 60
(Adopted from: Agricultural Statistics, 1999-2000).
Farming pattern has become very critical and poor due to the small land holdings as is evident from the table. As the land holdings get smaller and smaller, the diffusion of new technologies become expensive and difficult. So farmers should get the answer of their problems from the scientists keeping in view their socio-economic constraints.
Why Technology Doesn’t Reach the Roots?
In the past, many efforts have been launched in this regard but those could not sustain and perished without harvesting the fruitful results. Of the many big reasons, the most significant was that those innovations were not based on the needs of the small landholders, tenants and landless livestock owners. The farmers should get the answer of their problems from the scientists and extension workers that are cost-effective, economical, efficient, practicable, adjustable, approachable, and solution oriented. These cheap technologies should also be coupled with economic incentives and services in the public and private sector. Before we discuss the measures of improvement, the prevailing livestock situation would be reviewed firstly.
There are 45 million large ruminants in our country including 22.4 and 23.3 million cattle and buffaloes, respectively. Indigenous, Bos indicus (also called humped or zebu cattle) belong mainly to three types based on the purpose and performance viz; milch type, draught type and dual-purpose type animals. Sahiwal and Red Sindhi are recognized as dairy (milch) types, Dajal and Bhagnari are heavy draught, Dhanni a medium draught and Lohani and Rojhan are light draught breeds, while Tharparker bullocks do well as draught animals and their females are good milkers so this type belongs to the dual-purpose cattle (Table 2). According to a careful estimate, 20 % of the cattle population is purebred, 5 % crossbred or exotic ones while the rest 75 % are non-descript cattle. The increase in crossbred cattle in the past has resulted due to indiscriminate crossbreeding and readily available artificial insemination (AI) services. Conception rates in cattle have been reported as 30-60 % depending on weather conditions and during summer months it reaches as low as 10 %.
Table 2. Cattle and Buffaloes of Pakistan.
Sahiwal and Red Sindhi
Nili-Ravi and Kundi
Bhagnari and Dajal
Lohani and Rojhan
Globally there are about 165.72 million buffaloes at present. Out of these 75 % habitat in Asian countries. Although India houses 56 % of the buffaloes and 14 % of the world are found in Pakistan, but best buffalo specimens are available in Pakistan. According to a report, the best buffaloes are available in Pakistan, which has been termed as “Black Gold of Asia” by FAO (1997). Average yield per lactation has been referred as1800 to 2500 liters while few specimens can produce upto 6,000 liters in 305 days.
There are mainly four types of buffaloes found in the world. Swamp buffalo are found in many paddy growing and marshy areas of Asian countries. Indian buffaloes are called as Murrah Buffaloes while the buffalo available in our country belongs to the class of Water buffaloes. Feral buffaloes are also available in wild state in some countries like Indonesia, Borneo, Brunei, Brazil, Australia and America. As mentioned above, Pakistan has been blessed by nature with the best black gold of Asia i.e.; water buffalo. Two famous breeds exist in the country, as Nilli-Ravi a heavy breed found in Punjab and Kundi, a light breed inhabited in Sindh. Both of these breeds are well reputed and are comparatively better yielder than cattle.
Small ruminants include sheep (24.2 million) and goats (49.1 million). There are about twenty eight (28) or even more sheep breeds which are classified into two groups viz; thin-tailed and fat-tailed sheep (Table 3). Thin tail sheep are generally found in irrigated areas and fat tail breeds in arid rangelands and mountainous areas of Sindh, NWFP and Azad Kahmir. According to another FAO survey nineteen sheep breeds are classified under the thin tail category while twenty-eight sheep breeds come under the fat tailed sheep. However, the total sheep breeds and their distribution in different province in the country are presented in Table 4. Usually sheep are kept for wool and mutton production. The wool is of coarse quality and is mostly used in the local carpel industry. Local sheep breeds generally breed once a year and rarely produce twins. Annual lambing rate is about 80 % on overall basis.
Table 3. Important Sheep Breeds of Pakistan.
Thin Tail Sheep
Fat Tail Sheep
Table 4. Various Breeds of Sheep in Pakistan.
Goats are kept for milk and meat production and they can be classified into milch and meat categories. Out of total breeds, eleven famous breeds of goats in Pakistan are classified in Table 5 keeping mainly their types in view. The Beetal, Dera Din Panah (DDP) and Kamori are called “poor man’s cow” because of their good milk production. Their average milk yield is 250-310 liters for a lactation period of 90-100 days. Barbari, Chapper and Teddy are famous for meat while Pak Angora, Bikaneri, Kaghani and Khurrasani are kept for mohair and hair. The Beetal, DDP and Nachi yield good size skins. Goats usually breed more than once a year and twinning is very common (49 %) especially in Teddy breed that often gives 2-3 kids per kidding. Five kids per parturition have also been recorded. Table 6 shows the total goat breeds (33) and their province wise distribution in the country.
Table 5. Important Goat Breeds of Pakistan.
Dera Din Panah
Dera Din Panah
Table 6. Various Breeds of Goats in Pakistan.
There arc about 5.2 million draught animals in the country. The principal draught animals include camels, donkeys, horses and mules which are 0.8, 3.9, 0.3and 0.2million, respectively. The draught animals in irrigated areas are generally bought while in Barani areas they are farm bred. Cow and buffalo bullocks also provide traction power at the farms and roads. Camels, donkeys and mules are the main pack animals. Horses are usually used for riding and traction power.
Traditionally, livestock have been kept for draught purpose and most of the meat and milk produced was consumed by the owner and his family. The average cultivar in the country possesses a pair of bullocks but due to the onset of mechanization the draught animals are becoming distinct gradually. The work animals can start their work at the age of three and can go up to 10 to 15 years depending upon the intensity of utilization, feeding pattern and health care. However, much more scientific work is needed in this sector to find out the relationship of their feeding and management to their work performance.
Prevailing Livestock Production Systems
The main prevailing livestock production systems include (a) traditional rural livestock production, (b) commercial milk production and (c) desert/rangelands livestock production. Their little detail is presented in the ensuing lines.
a) Rural Livestock Production
Most rural families rear 3 to 5 buffaloes and cattle for milk production and try to meet their domestic demand. Some people sell their extra produce to the neighboring families. Due to the improvement of infrastructure and market roads, about 30 % of smallholders are now producing milk for sale in the market. Usually male and female calves suckle the mothers and are retained during the lactation. The best males are kept by farmers for breeding and the remaining males are usually sold for slaughter whilst the females are kept for future replacements. Normally adult females are culled at the age of 8-10 years and every family tries to keep one female in milk every time.
b) Commercial Milk Production
The development of urban or peri-urban commercial dairy farms is something new in livestock production; each dairy farm has about 20 or more buffaloes and cows. The large commercial dairy herds range from 100 to 500 buffaloes and cattle. The commercial livestock farm owners purchase pregnant animals with calf-at-foot from the open market. They always try to keep 5 % of their animals in production. Male calves are usually sold for beef purpose. Most of the dry and non-descript animals are sold for slaughter and only a few may be returned to rural areas for the next calving. Normally, commercial farmers do not keep milch animals after one lactation but usually sell them in the market for slaughter purposes and replace the herd by purchasing high yielding animals from rural areas when prices are low. This is also a negative practice, which will decrease the number of productive animals, thereby causing a significant reduced milk production. The “Landhi Cattle Colony” is the world’s biggest concentration of buffaloes/cattle at one place. This colony usually referred to cattle colony is close to Karachi. In this colony and its vicinity, more than 2,50,000 buffaloes and cattle are kept together for milk production. However, dairy beef is the second biggest product obtained from these animals.
c) Desert/Rangelands Livestock Production
Of the total 80 million hectare area of the country 49 million hectare in under different ranges, which is 62 % of the country’s, total area. In deserts, sheep, goats, cattle and camels are kept for milk production, draught power and transport. The cattle are reared in some base areas where water and grazing facilities are usually available. Sheep, goats and camels are kept in either nomadic system or transhument system. Nomadic flocks keep on moving constantly in search of grazing. Grazing is generally free of cost, but in winter during shortage of natural grasses, the shepherd may need to buy some feed from some other sources. The nomads sell their animals during the period of feed scarcity; therefore in winter the price of sheep and goats is slightly lower than prevailing in the rainy season. Under the transhument system, the whole human population with their livestock wealth migrates from desert areas or cold regions of northern parts of the country to the nearest irrigated or low lying lands but this always creates stress towards feed resources and affects the grazing capacity of the lands. This migration also affects the feed and meat prices in the market. Now let’s dwell on some of the main measures to alleviate these riddles to uplift the production systems for the enhancement of the production potentials of the livestock.
Livestock Management is the subject, which is widely and poorly understood even among the applied scientists. However a few of its hidden aspects will be mentioned which despite many people agree with them, but are neglected most of the time. Literally management means the judicious use of means to achieve certain goals. It can also be defined other way, as being the subject or science of combining resources and people to market a product profitably and successfully. This means that profit is one of the major goals for any operation and the ability to work with people as well as farm animals, land, capital and other resources is an important aspect of management.
Management of a livestock operation is not an exception from these notions. It is a challenging job as every farmer has in his hands a part of the biggest farm business in the country. In addition to this management of livestock or dairy enterprise must be tailored to fit the resources and goals of that farm. In case of a livestock enterprise, the following goals are suggested for a profitable business.
- It pays all operating expenses,
- It pays all interest on all capital invested,
- It maintains productivity and
- It earns a reasonable return for the operator. Both amount and type of resources very tremendously depend on climate, soil type, available buildings and equipment, capital and labor and so on.
Role of the Manager
As discussed in the above lines, the manager of the business is the key to that operation and is the hub of that enterprise. The manager should have the ability to accurately recognize problems or weak links, thoroughly evaluate alternatives in view of the probable costs and returns and make and implement plans to strengthen the weak areas. The manager’s decisions concerning definitions of goals, allocation of resources, planning, implementing, evaluating and revising will largely determine the success or failure of the operation. He must define goals and then allocate the available resources to achieve those ends. Although livestock management must be tailored to fit the resources and goals of individual farms, certain basic principles of business and herd management, as well as certain characteristics of a successful manager do apply to most of these operations.
Some of the personal characteristics of successful managers include the particular and special attributes, which enable them to make the majority of their decisions correctly and help ensure the success of their operations. As one German saying goes “the harder you work, the best luck you make“. They make their own luck through hard work and dedication. They must possess the ability to plan, work, think, evaluate, foresee and acquire knowledge. The qualities of a good manager include (a) working attitude, (b) good planner, (c) dedicated worker, (d) possess a think tank, (e) power to evaluate, (f) should have the ability of foreseeing, (g) should be technically sound, (h) honest and (i) with a strong decision power. However, how best the manager may be, he can’t make a purse out of a sow’s ear, so he must have a good herd/flock of livestock and the means to make profit from his enterprise. Manager will harvest good results if he possesses a good herd/flock of following qualities:
- A breeding program that results the genetic ability for high performance.
- A rigid culling program that weeds out unprofitable producers.
- A replacement program that results in an adequate supply of healthy, well-grown, high genetic-potential replacements ready to take their place in the herd or flock.
- A feeding program that encourages maximum economical production.
- A feed production program that maximizes use of available land resources and results in ample quantities of high-quality forage.
- A milking program that results in maximum letdown of high quality milk with minimum discomfort and damage to the udder.
- Economical, yet durable, labor efficient buildings and equipments.
- A preventive health care program that results in minimal non-genetic culling and high reproductive efficiency.
- An interest and concern for animals and those who work with them.
- A market with a high-class usage and in a strong competitive position for the future.
Breeding animals is one of the most important aspects of management. A good, efficient and healthy crop of animals can’t be raised if reproductive efficiency of our animals is not improved. One main reason for low animal productivity in the past was intensive inbreeding, i.e.; use of bulls without any records and use of draught bulls for breeding purpose. Selected pedigree bulls of Sahiwal and Red Sindhi breeds are available in some areas for breeding purpose. Pedigree bulls are also maintained by the village head person (Namberdar) for breeding purposes with the assistance of the department. In the case, all the villages of that locality are bound to castrate the other bulls to stop further breeding from these poor bulls. The artificial insemination (AI) centers in some areas also do well if the trained technicians are at hand. Breeding rams and bucks are also soled by some of the livestock farms. The exotic breeds Holstein-Friesian and Jerseys have also been introduced for cross breeding. The results in irrigated areas are quite good and average milk yield of F1 is 3,500 to 4,000 liters per lactation, but cross breeding has been less successful in hilly areas and arid zones due to variation in availability of fodder, although the climatic conditions are the same in irrigated areas and the arid zones.
Nutrition being one of the most important factors of livestock production is still a problem and hampering the livestock productivity in general and milk production in particular. This area needs special and immediate attention by the researchers and the government officials. For instance in traditional livestock farming they are fed through chopped fodder and wheat straw. In very rare home grown grains, kitchen wastes and some concentrates are offered to milking animals. On the other hand commercial livestock owners purchase fodder and concentrate from the markets and then sale their product (milk) at a rate which can compensate all the feeding expenses including their labor costs, etc. The concentrate generally contains wheat bran, cottonseed cake and rice polishing or crushed wheat. All feed ingredients are purchased from the open market. Cattle feed prepared at some places can also ensure the availability of nutrients to the animals.
Animals are getting their nutrition in a variety of ways depending upon the available feed resources and existing circumstances. Breeding bulls and milking animals are usually stall-fed with wheat straw, green fodder and concentrate, (mostly cottonseed cake) while dry animals and young stock are grazed in newly harvested fields, on canal banks, roadsides and wastelands. A small livestock holder only purchase concentrate from market, all other necessary feed ingredients are produced on his own or hired lands. Apart from this a fair number of animals is in support from wide ranges and pastures which if exist in good condition and properly managed, farm animals will perform quite satisfactorily even without supplementing their diet with the concentrate, except flushing rations given at breeding times.
An average farmer and livestock owner uses 3 to 4 family members as a source of power and labor in rural livestock management. The use of family labor is very common in some cases hired labor is also used, therefore the visible inputs seem very low and rural-based livestock farmers sell their products at low prices. This is a major constraint for development of commercial livestock production, because commercial farms are purchasing everything from the market at high prices; they use labor on a monthly or daily wage basis. This direct, strong competition has produce negative effects on livestock production.
There are still enormous production losses due endemic diseases every year. The rural-based livestock farmers only give their attention to life threatening diseases and do not pay proper attention to less serious disease problems, which cause considerable economic loss. However, the commercial farmers are quite alert about disease problems and usually they cull every diseased or suspected animal to save the remaining herd. Hiring the services of veterinary doctors in commercial herds is also getting importance. Infestation with endo-parasites causes huge production losses; 80% animals in rice growing areas are usually affected by parasitism. Research has indicated that the response of improved nutrition is much higher in parasites controlled. Disease surveillance and reporting system also needs special attention. This work should be accomplished at Tahsil and District levels regularly to monitor incidence from time to time and subsequent effective measures for control to make our animals as disease free. Disease diagnostic labs need to be strengthened and manned with qualified personnel. The need and importance of creating disease-free zones is becoming inevitable in the coming days with the onset of WTO restrictions, very shortly.
Marketing of Livestock
The marketing of livestock is an important point at which the producers turn over their stock to meat industry. Marketing is a completely neglected field. The importance of marketing as a major means to over all livestock development has not been duly recognized. The existing legislature provides for the establishment and supervision of primary markets for farm product. The livestock has not been added to the list of commodities covered by the existing regulations. The livestock markets are therefore, poorly equipped, loosely controlled and operated in an old-fashioned way. The effective and the efficient marketing of livestock and their products is important development program envisaged for the improvement of livestock industry.
Livestock are sold in traditional weekly rural markets. Animals are purchased and sold according to phenotypic characteristics. Usually, animals are bought by middlemen, who only estimate the weight of animals from its appearance. These middlemen resell purchased animals in city-base cattle market to butchers for slaughter purpose.
Marketing of Products
The involvement of middlemen in selling and buying raw milk is very deep. The milk reaches the city markets after long chain of middlemen who are involved from the point of produce, hauling to cities, selling to milk plants or big collectors or retailers and uptil the point of sale. During this very long chain of trade, many operations are done during handling like addition of ice or water, skimming and churning, etc. The first middleman usually purchases milk @ Rs.
There are great seasonal fluctuations in the price of livestock products due to the fact that the livestock-based economy is uncertain as compared to other investments. Milk production increases in winter due to the calving pattern of buffaloes and cows, but at the same time the price of milk decreases in the open market without benefiting to consumers. In summer, the government spends huge amounts of foreign exchange approximately worth of Rs. 50 Crores per annum on the purchase of dry milk powder to meet the demand of existing human population.
Similar situation exist for meat. There is no grading system available for meat animals and its carcass. Normally butchers sell their meat according to their wish and price is not realized according to the meat cuts. Price stability in livestock production is a must for avoiding great seasonal fluctuations. The idea of support prices for livestock commodities should also be understood and implemented correctly in its true sense.
Both the livestock and crop enterprises are closely integrated. Crop sector provides animal feed through grown fodder and by-products of major crops. A more intensive integration of fodder production, and therefore, livestock, in cropping pattern is desirable. This will not only improve the livestock productivity but will also improve the nitrogen fixation of soil through legumes, raise soil fertility, controlling of certain plants pests, and better use of no arable land, controlling weeds, better use of crop residues and farm by-products and generation of more farm employment at farm level.
The livestock population in rural as well as commercial sector is increasing rapidly every year as compared to the available feed resources. Therefore, it is necessary to give, more emphasis to increase the livestock productivity rather than increasing their numbers. There is no alternative for better management. Good management, feeding, housing, prophylactic measures, vaccination and control of internal parasites will be helpful to achieve better production. Last but not the least, a summary of the whole is presented in the form of few points as a ready beckoner for the readers.
Measures to Improve the Rural Livestock Production should include the following:
- Improving the genetic potential of indigenous livestock through selection, crossbreeding and AI.
- Quality of poor fodders and straws can be improved with treatment of urea and molasses. The urea is cheap source of nitrogen while molasses provides ample energy to the ruminants.
- Good, economical, efficient and flexible housing plans be developed through animal production experts or any other viable and sustainable sources.
- Enforcement of vaccination schedules beside proper and timely veterinary cover.
- Control of ecto- and endo-parasites through proper dipping and drenching. Response of proper feeding and improved nutritional management is much lower if animals are infested with the parasites.
- Improvement of breed potential and good management will increase conception rate, growth rate, milk yield and decrease calving interval.
- Price stability in livestock production is a must for avoiding great seasonal fluctuations. Implementation of sound policies can bring the livestock economy to a great certainty.
- Preservation of surplus milk in winter by converting it into powder and saving enormous amount of foreign exchange being spent on the import of dry milk.
- Replacing draught animals to beef route through fattening and finishing programs. Also the encouragement of feedlot system for cattle, male buffalo calves, sheep, goats and other culled animals.
- Meat grading, preservation and suitable marketing are required. Proper pricing system is also the need of the hour.
- Encouragement of commercial producers by providing incentives and services.
- Proper manure handling, its preservation, timely application for increasing soil fertility and keeping pollution under control.
Table 4. Various Breeds of Sheep in Pakistan.
a. Alphabetical listing of total breeds.
5. Buchi (Bahawalpuri)
6. Cholistani (Khadali)
10. Harnai (Dumari)
17. Kohai Ghizer
19. Lohi (Parkanni, Lamocher)
24. Salt Range (Latti)
27. Tirahi (Afridi)
b. Province-wise distribution of breeds.
Balochistan (4): Balochi, Bibrik, Harnai and Rakhshani.
NWFP (7): Balkhi, Damani, Hashtnagri, Kaghani, Michni, Tirahi and Waziri.
Punjab (7): Buchi, Cholistani, Kajli, Lohi, Salt Range, Sipli and Thalli.
Sindh (3): Dumbi, Kachhi and Kooka.
NAs (3): Baltistani, Gojal and Kohai Ghizer.
AJK (4): Kail, Kali, Pahari and Poonchi.
Table 6. Various Breeds of Goats in Pakistan.
a. Alphabetical listing of total breeds.
2. Barbari (Bari)
4. Beiari (Chamber)
6. Bugri, Bujri (Bagitoori or Bugi Toori))
7. Chappar (Kohistani or Jabli, Jablu)
9. Dera Din Panah
12. Jattal (Desi)
13. Jattan (Dhattan)
16. Kajli (Pahari)
19. Kohai Ghizer
25. Nachi (Bikaneri)
30. Sindh Desi
31. Tapri (Lappi)
33. Tharki (Tharri)
b. Province-wise distribution of breeds.
Balochistan (3): Kajli, Khurrasani and Lehri.
NWFP (3): Damani, Gaddi and Kaghani.
Punjab (4): Beetal, Dera Din Panah, Nachi and Teddy.
Sindh (11): Barbari, Bugri, Chapper, Jattan, Kamori, Kurri, Lohri, Pateri, Sindh Desi,
Tapri and Tharki.
NAs (5): Baltistani, Jarakheil, Kohai Ghizer, Labri and Piamiri.
AJK (7): Beiari, Buchi, Jattal, Kail, Kooti, Pothohari and Shurri.
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Key Reference :
Muhammad Younas and Muhammad Yaqoob
Department of Livestock Management
Faculty of Animal Husbandry, University of Agriculture. Faisalabad-38040