Animal Agriculture

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Animal Agriculture

Week 4

During the period of twenty years between 1987 and 2007 number of sheep farms and sheep in general in the United States have decreased in about two times throughout the Mountain States, Northern Plains, Lake States, and Corn Belt. Lambs shared the same fate. It is important to reveal the causes of such decline and understand what factors affect the sheep and lamb breeding. Having understood the reasons, we may find ways to increase the number of sheep and lamb within the United States and reach an all-time high rate once again.

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Repeal of the National Wool Act and losses from predator kills are often given as two major causes of the decline of the industry. However, the analysis of the problem reveals many other factors that contributed to the decline process. Among them are competition from other meats and other fibers, changes in consumer preferences, foreign wool production subsidies, and changes in regulations and permits for grazing on public lands and weak regulation of endangered species. The changes in consumer preferences are one of the most surprising reasons for the decline. These changes occurred as a result of changes in the lifestyle of many Americans. For example, it has become popular not to eat meat or wear fur as many young people position themselves as vegetarians and fighters for animals’ rights. Media also promotes such lifestyle, which makes it even more prevailing in modern society.

Nevertheless, it is possible to recover the industry. Productivity can be raised by further advances in genetics, nutrition, health, and management programs; by getting lambs to their final weigh on forage or pasture in order to offset the rising price of grain and concentrate feeds, and by direct marketing of high-quality and lighter-weight lambs to the rapidly expanding ethnic markets. These methods should increase the number of sheep in the United States and breathe life into the sheep and lamb industry.

Week 5

Animal genetics have developed technologies that can improve the efficiency of pork production. Crossbreeding is among such technologies. The process of crossbreeding involves a careful combination of available breeds and selection of outstanding breeding animal replacements from within those breeds. Application of crossbreeding technology allows the producer to take advantage of hybrid vigor and to combine desirable characteristics of different breeds. In order to take full advantage of crossbreeding programs, they must be systematic and well-planned. Let us focus on some of the possible advantages.

One of the most important advantages of crossbreeding is exhibiting the strengths of all breeds from which they descend with an added advantage of heterosis. These advantages include a 4 percent increase in swine survival, a 5 percent increase in weaning weight and a 6 percent increase in post-weaning gain. The other benefit of crossbreeding lies the fact that with the help of breed complementarity others may benefit as well. This involves evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of potential breeds and selecting those that complement each other. An animal that has the best traits of those breeds will be the result of it. However, purebred programs should remain necessary and applicable as they provide the basis for crossbreeding programs.

Biosecurity is a set of preventive measures that serve the purpose of reducing the risk of contamination with infectious diseases, pests, and invasive alien species. Biosecurity measures include using separate equipment for sick and healthy animals, controlling rodents and insects, quality control of food and water, and keeping the sanitary code at the farm. These measures should be included in the day-to-day management of the herd. In addition to that, new animals should be quarantined and observed for some period before adding to the herd.

Biosecurity is very important to the swine industry as it provides a healthy environment for the animals and increases the efficiency of breeding programs. No doubt that biosecurity measures must be taken in every industry that involves breeding.

Week 6

The efficient performance of poultry housing system requires fulfillment of certain specifications. There are some of these specifications: the poultry houses should be located in non-residential areas in order to avoid noise and dust; they should be constructed in such a way that they maintain good environmental conditions; the farms should be elevated from the ground; they should be constructed in east to west direction along their length. It is also important that water, electricity, and equipment will be within the reach of the poultry house; proper temperature and light should be provided; there must be good ventilation; flooring and roof must be constructed with proper materials and finally, poultry must be fed with sufficient food and water.

Therefore, the cage poultry system fully meets these requirements. In this method there is no waste of space and food and the eggs could be easily collected. Besides, it is much easier to separate the diseased birds using cage method, than utilizing deep litter poultry system. Maintenance of cages is easier and requires less labor. Less mortality rate is also a significant advantage of such a system. It is more efficient to use a cage poultry system, despite some of the imperfections of it as its advantages outweigh the advantages of other methods.

The differences in poultry breeding and breeding of big animals are conditioned by the principles of care. Poultry is easier to maintain and requires less financial costs. Besides, diseased poultry is easier to treat and separate from healthy birds. However, animal breeding gives more products such as meat, wool, hide, milk and related products. These features should be taken into account when analyzing the performance of other livestock production industries. Implementing these features may increase the overall productivity of the industry.

Week 7

The dairy industry has a special position among the other sectors of agriculture. There are specific aspects of this industry that make it more profitable. For example, milk can be used to make an enormous variety of products. Dairy production provides a lot of employment due to the intensity of required labor. The fact that milk can be produced every day gives regular income to small and large producers. However, there are some difficulties related to dairy production.

The first issue is the specific properties of milk as a raw material. Milk is bulky and has a heavy commodity that is produced on a daily basis. As a consequence, milk requires high-cost transportation. Furthermore, milk has a time limit on the period during which it must be used or processed and transformed into a more stable, longer keeping form. This fact makes milk very expensive raw material. Thus, this is the most important aspect of the dairy industry. Therefore, such feature must be considered as one that has the most influence on the industry.

Modern dairy industry experiences growth and further development. There are few trends in the dairy industry today and on one of them, we will concentrate more specifically. The most influential trend in this industry will be related to restoring the balance between livestock density and the nutrient absorptive capacity of the surrounding environment. This process will involve different technological, financial, regulatory, and institutional changes. Technological changes may include reducing the number of manure nutrients produced. Private institutions may need to change practices to maximize the efficient use of agricultural nutrients. In other words, the presented trend is directed to the necessity of enhancing environmental performance. These changes will provide more opportunities for the industry in general and will increase its productivity.

Week 8

Deciding on breeding horses, the owner usually has to invest considerable time and money into this activity. There are several factors that have an impact on horse breeding that needs to be taken into account. Horses need special care that includes a lot of specific features. It is conditioned by the necessity of having a large area for the farm where horses are going to be breed. A large area is necessary as the horses need to have a lot of free space to pasture. The second feature of this kind of breeding is the specific equipment and barns for horses. Horse breeding also requires wise management and has high transportation costs. The major difference in horse breeding comparing to other livestock industries is that horses do not produce any product that is in great demand. Horses are rarely used in the production of meat and milk, though it is not the main purpose of horse breeding.

The major purpose of horse breeding is participation in competitions or selling horses. As it was mentioned, horse breeding is a very expensive industry. Thereby, horse owners are often rich people who have a high social status and opportunity to be involved in such a business. Therefore, it is important to note that horse breeding does not have any significant impact on the agricultural realm as it is more related to business than the livestock industry. Horse breeding is a part of a private business sector, rather than the national industry. Besides, it is a very privileged business that is popular within narrow circles of rich people.

As to the question of research on nutritional and health aspects of horses, horse owners spent enough money on such investigations and follow the recommendations found as a result of the research. Thereby, horses do have a very special place when compared to other livestock species. Horse breeding is a unique field that has many specific features that make it different from any other kind of such industries.

Week 9

If I had to choose between three non-traditional production industries, I would choose rabbit production. In my opinion, this industry has a lot of advantages. The first is that rabbits are very fast at reproduction and growth. It means that they can carry out the products for future realization quickly and in significant volume. Rabbits also have high protein and energy efficiency. They are able to turn twenty percent of the proteins they eat into edible meat. This fact makes rabbit meat production very perspective and profitable. However, meat is not the only product that can be derived from rabbits. Other valuable products produced by rabbits include fur and skin. Such a variety of options and relatively simple maintenance make rabbit breeding very advantageous when compared to other non-traditional production industries.

The major disadvantage of rabbit breeding is multiple diseases that rabbits may have during their life. These diseases can be hard to identify as the most common reaction to any disturbances among rabbits is diarrhea. It may be caused equally by specific and non-specific factors and may not always guarantee the existence of the disease.

Nevertheless, rabbit breeding has the most potential among the non-traditional production industries. There are several reasons for that. First of all, this industry is profitable. Second, it does not require high expenses for equipment and maintenance. The third reason consists of a variety of options for commercial utilization of rabbits. In other words, this industry offers many products that can be sold. Finally, rabbit breeding brings fast and visible results. All these features make rabbit breeding a very attractive industry.

I consider llama breeding one of the most unpromising businesses among livestock industries because llama’s hair is not that popular in the United States, and llamas are not usually bred in order to produce meat. Therefore, there is any perspective for this industry in the near future.

Week 10

After reading the “Myths and Facts” section on Animal Agriculture Alliance website, I did not believe any of the discussed myths. Besides the facts presented on the website that debunk these myths, confirm the inconsistency of such conjectures. Such misinformation leads to a poor image of the animal agriculture industry. Thereby, there is a need to suggest a way that will help to prevent the spread of misinformation.

In order to achieve this goal, guided tours into animal agriculture institutions should be organized. It will provide people with actual information about the industry by allowing them to see it with their own eyes. The use of visual methods will establish a more trusted relationship between consumers and the workers of agriculture institutions. Thereby, the offered approach will help to prevent disinformation and rehabilitate the actual image of animal agriculture.

Despite knowing the real facts of animal housing within livestock production industries, I am still concerned about this matter as a consumer. It is important for me to know that animals do not suffer and have good nutrition and care in agriculture facilities. It is especially important in terms of large industrial objects such as dairy farms. In general, my personal experience provides me with a clear image of animal agriculture and there is nothing frightening in this picture.


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