Animal Husbandry in India has always been a very important aspect of the Indian rural agricultural scenario through its indispensable contribution to the economy be it rural or overall national economy at large. Since time immemorial, animals have been an integral part of all the day-to-day activities of humans in every way possible.
The ceiling of Cross Breeding: After the implementation of National programs of Crossbreeding, undoubtedly, the production potential of indigenous animals have been improved by means of up-gradation, but there should be a regular check for permissible exotic blood level in indigenous animals, as the crossbred population is more prone to diseases in Indian conditions. There should be a ceiling for cross-breeding. Conservation of elite herds of pure germplasm will definitely be a milestone in future animal husbandry.
Animal husbandry is the art of breeding and rearing animals for the benefit of human society. The word Animal Husbandry applies primarily to cattle or dairy cows, buffalo, chickens, goats, pigs, horses, and sheep. Today, even animals like donkeys, mules, rabbits, and insects such as bees are being raised as part of it. In fact, rearing animals is an age-old practice in Indian culture.
During different phases of cultural revolutions, animals have embossed their importance through their contribution to human livelihood. Many ancient historical monuments and the findings at excavations of old civilizations have proved the intense relations of animals with humans since before the beginning of its written documentation. The ancient symbols of prestige and power had mostly decorated in the form of animal sculptures, which undoubtedly denotes the cultural worth of animals in India. Consumption of varieties of animal flesh has been documented as a common practice in various ancient literature.
However, over the centuries together, the animals in India have been suffering due to the devastation of natural pastures, inferior quality fodders, deforestation, ever-increasing competition with humans for food, changing environment. changing customs, industrialization, urbanization, mechanization, and several other factors.
Animal Husbandry in India
In India, different systems have been adopted by farmers in different corners of the country. But broadly considering, rearing animals can be classified into three different systems as follows:
Mixed Livestock Farming
Widely spread and highly popularized among Indian farmers, this method actually involves agriculture and animals together as the principle of co-existence, where animals are used for tillage, providing manure to agriculture and in return, animals can get crop residues as feed, care, and shelter by owner. According to the availability of resources, the farmers may hold 5-6 animals and maintain them with the agriculture remnants. Usually, animals are managed on coarse types of fodder for most of the duration but a farmer can get drought power, milk, dung, etc at a very reasonable cost.
Migratory Livestock Farming
This is an ancient system of livestock rearing in this system, the natural resources in form of pastures and grasslands are used to feed the animals. Animals always need to move in search of fodder and water. But due to the devastation of natural grasslands and limited monsoon, this method of animal rearing is declining day by day. For small ruminants like sheep and goats, it proved itself as the economic method of rearing.
Organized Livestock Farming
This is a modern method of animal rearing where animals are reared with a specialized purpose. All the amenities required for the well-being of animals are provided in a scientific manner and with the help of veterinary care. Animals are managed in intensive or semi-intensive housing and are provided with a balanced ratio to encourage maximum production. Although capital investment in this system is more, still it is popular for the rearing of dairy animals near urban areas and the rearing of poultry.
Animal Husbandry Challenges
Land is our only common resource acting as the platform for the development of humans and animals. Ever-increasing competition among them for food security has been creating a nuisance in their relationship. Being the most dominant species on the planet, being has got first priority to implement his ideas leading to less concern towards animals as compared with industrialization.
Apart from this many more issues have been alarming as problems in Indian animal husbandry, which include huge animal population, the low production potential of indigenous animals, non-producing and aged animals, devastating natural pastures, fluctuating monsoon, and reluctant droughts, lack of infrastructure facilities at rural areas, deficient Feed, and Fodder, indiscriminate Breeding, lack of awareness for scientific animal management, lack of credit facilities for animals. owners and environmental pollution.
Way forward to Animal Husbandry
To get rid of the challenges and the problems of Indian animal husbandry way forward different corners of fate should be checked with intensive solutions by means of suitable policies as a future prospect for its desired development. The following are the few keys to designing and implementing future policies of Indian animal husbandry.
- Culling of Burdening Animals: According to Singh (2015), Non-productive, disowned, overaged animals are estimated about 7.45 percent of the livestock population in India. This group of animals has been creating an excess burden on natural resources. Removal of such useless animals from the population will surely help to mitigate the fodder crisis in livestock. A special policy should be designed to deal with such animals.
- Licensing for Animal Keeping: Animals should be reared by farmers who are liable to manage them, and for that, they should have proper resources to maintain the animal. The animal holding pattern should be governed by certain licensing policies. Depending upon the capability of the farmer, an estimated number of animals should be permitted for rearing. The strength of any particular area may be considered to design such a policy.
- Rejuvenation of Natural Pastures and Grasslands: By means of overgrazing, less rainfall, and deteriorating soil quality, natural pastures have been destroyed in many parts of the country. Rejuvenation of such landscapes with improved varieties of fodders, and manuring. provision of micro irrigation with solar energy and management of grazing will surely boost the natural resources for fodder. NGOs may also be involved in such activities.
- Smooth Credit Facilities to Animal Owners: Easy credit facilities should be made available to animal owners to create basic infrastructural or other essential facilities required for animal management. The animal itself may be considered an asset to sanction the smooth loans to farmers, provided that, the animals should be insured with any legal agency.
- Supply of Concentrate Feed on Subsidy: Every registered and licensed animal owner should be provided with an animal ration card. Under such a scheme, the concentrated feed may be made available for animals at a subsidized rate.
- Maintenance of Animal Health Cards: Usually verbal information provided by the owner serves as a base for veterinarians. So to avoid such complications and to streamline the data recording up to date, maintenance of Animal health cards should be made mandatory for each animal owner.
- Rigorous Veterinary Extension Education: Improved skills and the latest technologies for animal management should reach the farmer’s doorstep shortly. As prevention is better than cure, the occurrence of any complications in animals can be avoided by means of proper scientific care and management.
- Research for Organic Livestock Farming: The future theme of human livelihood has been coined with an attractive prefix, ‘Organic’. Considering it as an appeal to the next generation, animal husbandry should also turn towards the path of Organic. Perhaps, it will need effort and sufficient time to bring the desired change, but we will have to move towards it soon. To create a concrete platform for such a broad vision, we will have to engage ourselves in required research for future organic animal husbandry.
- Establishment of SEZ (Special Economic Zone): Special emphasis needs to be laid on animal husbandry practices around urban areas. In spite of having large capital potential in urban areas, due to a lack of proper land, the livestock industry is being hampered. Hence, there should be the demarcation of sufficient land nearby to the urban area, as Special Economic Zone for animal husbandry. Such specialized SEZs will be the milestone for the industrialization of the livestock sector in the forthcoming era of the modern generation.
- Pricing Policy: Regular fluctuations in the market prices of animal produce severely shocks the livestock sector. Somehow, the poultry industry has its well-settled pricing policy, but for other products, there are heavy in their market prices. There should be a monitoring agency, which will declare the base price for all animal products, this will help to measure the production potential of animals appropriately.
- Separate Budgetary Provision for Animal Husbandry Sector: Considering Animal husbandry as a separate sector for development. it should be separated from the agriculture sector, where it usually gets the next priority for fund allocation. The individual budgetary head should be incorporated in planning and sufficient funds should be made available for the strengthening of the animal husbandry sector.
Animal husbandry is our inevitable culture with great potential for changing rural India. There is no doubt that the appropriate implementation of scientifically designed future prospects will surely be a milestone in transforming India. It will need some smart approaches great with a broad vision and obvious compassion for our animals.