Role of Animal Husbandry in Agriculture

About animal husbandry

Animal husbandry is a branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fiber, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day to day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. By animals, it means domesticated animals which are reared mostly for economic or for recreation purposes, such as buffalo, cattle, sheep, camel, pig, horse etc. It also includes poultry farming and fishes. All these livestock collaboratively impact the agriculture sector of any nation. It, therefore, plays a very major role in agriculture.

In India, the livelihood of two-third of the rural community depends on animal husbandry. The livestock sector contributes 4.11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP. It also provides employment to 8.8% of the Indian population. Therefore supporting the agriculture sector as well as the Indian economy. The total value of the output of the agricultural sector increased from 28.2 percent to 30.1 percent during 2004-05 to 2012-13 only. (Source: 20th Livestock Census)

Animal rearing has many positive attributes in the agriculture field. It provides critical farm inputs like manures or natural organic fertilizers which is a very essential input for the poor farmers who can not afford to buy fertilizers or resides in a remote area. This gives rise to the zero budget natural farming concept, which includes strategies and methods that involve zero credit for agriculture and no use of chemical fertilizers.

Organic farming

The demand for crops grown organically has increased many times in recent years. These crops have higher available nutrients and lesser toxic chemicals. It also ensures the good quality chemical-free feed or fodder availability to the animals which in turn increases the quality of product. It provides nutritional security to the farmers through nutritious milk and high-quality animal protein which is essential for balance growth and maintenance of good health of his family members.

Animal role in agriculture

Animals like bullocks, horses, mules, ox are draught animals. Farmers used to drive carts and transport essential commodities using these livestock animals. They were used in Indian culture or agricultural systems from a very long time. Anciently these animals were also used in water pumping and oil separation processes. Still, farmers use these animals for ploughing instead of using tractors or other machines due to monetary reasons. Horses and mules are used for pulling carts, which is still a reliable mode of transportation in remote areas. Farmers carry their crops in these carts and supply them to nearby markets.

Poultry in animal husbandry

Poultry such as chickens, ducks, Turkey, and Greece is used for the production of meat and eggs. More than 60 billion chickens are killed annually for consumption, therefore play an important role in the agriculture sector. The poultry industry is the fastest growing industry as compared to other agricultural industries. Production of the agricultural crop is increasing at a rate of 1.5 to 2 percent per annum whereas the production of eggs and broiler is increasing at the rate of 8-10 percent per annum. This is therefore a very promising agricultural sector for the farmers.

Pig farming in animal Husbandry

Pig farming has a long imagery problem in India, Although it is quite popular in other parts of the world. The pig population in India is estimated to be 10.29 million and it ranks 5th in the world. the pig has the highest feed conversion efficiency i.e. they produce more live weight gain from a given weight of feed than any other class of meat-producing animals (excepts broilers). They can utilize damaged feed and garbage and convert them into nutritious meat. Pork is most nutritious with high fat and low water content. It has better energy value than any other meat. It is also rich in vitamins like Thiamin, Niacin and Riboflavin. Therefore the piggery sector has a very high potential and big role in the agriculture sector.

Cattle in animal husbandry

There are over 264 million dairy cows worldwide, producing nearly 600 million tonnes of milk every year. India is blessed with a huge biodiversity of 43 indigenous cattle breeds and 13 Buffalo breeds which have survived over the last hundreds of years in respect of their suitability for specific purposes in the concerned local environment. The main primary product obtained from the cattle and buffalo is milk. India ranks first among the world’s milk-producing Nations since 1998 and has the largest bovine population in the World.

Milk contains high-quality protein and a variety of essential micronutrients. The dairy industry processes raw milk into an array of products including butter, cheese, cream, yogurt, ghee, condensed milk, dried milk, ice cream, etc., and produces various by-products including buttermilk, whey, ghee, and skim milk. The per capita availability of milk in India during 2017-18 was 375 gm/day and by 2023-24, it is estimated to increase to 592 gm/day. It is one of the steadily growing agricultural sector in India.

Active role of agriculture

In the end, it can be clearly seen that animal husbandry plays the biggest role in agriculture. Every farm practice or agricultural practice is connected with livestock through many interwoven ways. Agricultural sector can be strengthened by strengthening the livestock sector and vice versa. The fate and progress of any nation depends on agriculture which itself depends on animals/livestock assets flourishing there.


  1. “History of the domestication of animals”. History world. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  2. Meyer, Vernon M.; Driggers, L. Bynum; Ernest, Kenneth; Ernest, Debra. “Swine Growing-Finishing Units” (PDF). Pork Industry handbook. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved17 May 2017.
  3. 20th Livestock Census
  4. Annual Report 2018-19, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Govt. of India.

Himanshu Negi.

College of veterinary and animal sciences , Pantnagar

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