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Introduction to Animal Production



This study was carried out on the introduction to animal production. Peri-urban dairy production system from Urban and mixed crop-animal production system from Rural were considered for the study. The Urban peri-urban study sites were Domeabra, Aprade and Abuakwa while Amansie West District was considered from Rural. A reconnaissance survey was used to get the general picture of the study sites. Purposive sampling was employed to select target farms. Structured questionnaire, focused group discussions, secondary data sources and field observations were employed to generate data. A total of 60 farmers from Urban system (Domeabra=20, Aprade=20 and Abuakwa=20) were selected for the study. The farms were further stratified into small and medium herd size. Similarly, a total of 60 livestock owners were selected from Amansie West District area. Samples of major feed resources were collected from both system and their chemical composition was determined. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and General Linear Model of the SAS software.

The result of the study indicated that both natural pastures and crop residues were the main basal diets in Rural system while grass hay was the main basal diet in the Urban system. Seventy five percent of both small and medium herd size dairy farms at Aprade and Abuakwa had feed problems in relation with the current escalating cost of feeds. More over 80 and 55% of the dairy farmers at Aprade and Abuakwa, respectively indicated that commercial feeds are not available sufficiently in the market. Laboratory analysis of major feed resources indicated that hay had CP content of 6.1% and grazing pasture 7.2%. CP content of crop residues varied from 3.1 to 6.7%, which was below the minimum requirement of 7.0% for optimum microbial function. In addition, crop residues had lower digestibility (47%) and energy value ranges from 6.5-7.9 MJ/kg DM. NDF content of crop residues was above 65%. Assessment of market price of feeds and milk showed that in the Urban study sites noug seedcake had the highest price and varied from ETB 2.13 to 2.41 per kg feed. In Abuakwa area the price of brewery wet grain was lowest (ETB 0.18 per kg feed). Brewery wet grain had the lowest price (ETB 0.02) per unit of metabolizable energy (ME) while noug seedcake had the highest (ETB 0.23).

The price for locally processed products such as butter and Cheese was highest in the dry season in all study areas. Therefore, from the current study it was concluded that the quality of available basal roughage feeds is generally low and strategic supplementation of protein and energy rich feeds should be required. Alternative means of dry season feed production and supply should be in place with the involvement of all stakeholders and development actors. In relation with the rising market price of concentrate feeds, other optional feeds like brewery wet grains and non-conventional feed resources should be taken into consideration.




 1.1      Background of the study

Ghana is believed to have one of the largest animal populations in Africa. The recent animal population census (CSA, 2008) shows that Ghana has about 49.3 million heads of cattle, 25.0 million sheep, 21.9 million goats, 1.8 million horses, 5.4 million donkeys, 335 thousand mules, 760 thousand camels and 38.1 million poultry. This does not include animal population of three zones of Afar and six zones of Somali regions.

Several authors have classified animal production systems in Ghana using different ways. Most classifications are based on the criteria that include degree of integration of livestock with crop production, level of input and intensity of production, agro-ecology and market orientation. Accordingly, about five production systems have been defined; namely pastoral, agro-pastoral, mixed crop-livestock farming, intensive dairying and peri-urban dairying (MoA, 1997; Yoseph, 1999; Mohammed et al., 2004; Yitay, 2007). Across all production systems, the production of milk and milk products has vital place where 99% of the total milk production is contributed by cattle.

Ghana holds large potential for dairy development mainly due to its large animal population, the favorable climate for improved high-yielding animal breeds, and the relatively disease-free environment (Winrock International, 1992; Halloway et al., 2000). In addition, the country enjoys diverse topographic and climatic conditions and hence milk production, at different levels, takes place across all agro-ecological zones. In the Urbans milk is mainly produced on small scale mixed farmers while in the lowlands, pastoralist production systems are predominant. There are also intensive and commercial dairy farms in the country. The majority of cows kept are indigenous breeds, with a limited number of farmers keeping few crossbred grade dairy animals (Gebre-Wold et al., 2000).

However, despite large number of livestock resources in the country, its productivity is extremely low. The animals sector in Ghana contributes 12 and 33% of the total and agricultural gross domestic product, respectively (Ayele et al., 2003). The per capita consumption of milk is estimated to be 19.2 kg/person/year, which is very low as compared to the average per capita consumption of Africa, 37.2 kg/person/year (FAO, 1998; FAO, 2000).

An increasing demand for dairy products in the country is, however, expected to induce rapid growth in the dairy sector. Factors contributing to this demand include the rapid population growth (estimated at 3% annually), increased urbanization and expected growth in incomes (Mohammed et al., 2004). The shift in national policy towards a more market-oriented economy will facilitate private entrepreneurs to respond to the increased demand through increased investment in dairy production and milk processing. While the response of the private sector to the increased demand for dairy is expected to be significant, the small-scale farms in the Urbans hold most of the potential for dairy development. Currently, a number of smallholder and commercial dairy farms are emerging mainly in the urban and peri-urban areas of Ashanti (Felleke and Geda, 2001; Azage, 2003) and most regional towns and districts (Ike, 2002; Nigussie, 2006). According to Azage and Alemu (1998), there were 5167 dairy farms producing milk annually in the Ashanti milk shade.

In Ghana, annual milk production per cow is generally low due to reduced lactation length, extended calving interval, age at first calving and poor genetic makeup. One of the major problem to such low milk production is shortage of livestock feeds both in quantity and quality, especially during the dry season. Moreover, progressive decline of average farm sizes in response to rising human populations, encroachment of cropping land onto erstwhile grazing areas and onto less fertile and more easily erodible lands, and expansion of degraded lands which can no longer support either annual crops or pastures contributed to shortage of feed resources (Anderson, 1987; Alemayehu, 2005). Further poor grazing management (e.g. continuous overgrazing) contributed to shortage of feed resources as a result of replacement of productive and nutritious flora by unpalatable species (Ahmed, 2006). Animal feed supply from natural pasture fluctuates following seasonal dynamics of rainfall (Alemayehu, 1998; Solomon et al., 2008a). Furthermore, quality of native pasture is very low especially in dry season due to their low content of digestible energy and protein and high amount of fiber content. This is much worse for crop residues owing to their lower content of essential nutrients (protein, energy, minerals and vitamins) and lower digestibilities and intake (Seyoum and Zinash, 1988; Chenost and Sansoucy, 1991; Zinash et al., 1995). Despite, these problems, however, ruminants will continue to depend primarily on forages from natural pastures and crop residues.

Peri-urban dairy production systems have been emerged around cities and towns, which heavily rely on purchased fodder. The term peri-urban refers to the linkage and interaction between rural and urban areas and characterized by the production, processing and marketing of milk and milk products that are channeled to consumers in urban centers (Rey et al., 1993 as cited in Yoseph, 1999). Fonteh et al. (2005) also defined peri-urban as an area located at the outskirts of town (between approximately 5 and 10 km away from town). Further commercialization of dairy production takes place around cities and towns where the demand for milk and milk products is high (medium and large towns). However, the production system has been constrained by several factors of which in adequate year round animal feed supply (quantity and quality) is the focal point. Few research works have been carried out with regard to feed availability in relation with dairy animals in urban and peri-urban dairy farms (Yoseph et al., 2003a). Current and up-to-date baseline information is lacking in peri-urban areas on feed availability and quality under the prevailing situations. As a result, there is a need to investigate the feed demand and supply situation in the peri-urban areas with the aim to identify suitable strategies to provide adequate amounts and sufficient quality fodder to the dairy animals.

On the other hand, the animals sector in the Rural (CRV) around Amansie West District has been previously dominated by agro-pastoralists, which have been permanently settled by the effort of Government and NGOs. Currently, many of the smallholders using irrigation for crop production in the CRV are mixed crop-livestock farmers. However, the contribution of such scheme for animal production in terms of animal feed supply is not well known. Yet, such smallholders keep livestock to provide them with draught power, transport, savings, and milk (Alemayehu, 1985; Legesse et al., 1987). Besides, the number of animals determines the socio-cultural status of the owner (Amsalu, 2000). The large number of animals in the CRV has resulted in large-scale overgrazing and land degradation as evidenced through the increase of invasive weeds. However, current baseline information with regard to feed availability is also lacking in the Rural. Recently, dairy development is promoted by the government and NGOs to increase national milk production and to improve incomes of crop-livestock mixed farming systems. This development will contribute to the need of the society and at the same time increase competition for sufficient and good quality animal feed, especially roughage. Feed availability and quality, especially during the dry season is an important constraint in animal production endeavor and it determines to a large extent the physical performance of the livestock sector. In general, it can be stated that the development potential of animal production is negatively influenced by the chronic shortage of fodder in most of the animals (both dairy and meat) producing areas.

1.2       Statement of the problem

Animal production play an important role in Ghana economy. Over the past years, considerable changes have taken place in populations of livestock and the composition of livestock holdings, as well as in the management strategies, as a result of population growth and land use intensification. There are different social, economic, environmental and political constraints to animal production systems, which are reflected by livestock productivity, natural and social risks of agro-pastoral systems and natural resources degradation. The absence or weak legal and regulatory framework for agriculture is one of the weaknesses of agrarian policy in Ghana. Current policies are based on the former planned economy policy reforms which are not appropriate to market-based economy. These legislations mainly focused on state-owned farms, collective farms and cooperatives, such as development of livestock industry in plain, high populated areas rather than remote, marginalized and small-scale extensive production systems. The adopted laws and other legislations about livestock breeding, pasture utilization and others practically do not work, due to the lack of mechanisms to implement them. After the Land Reform in 90‘s, people with different backgrounds became farmers. Most of them were not familiar with the basic fundamentals of agricultural production (For instance, former teachers, doctors, engineers and others). Similarly, even people who were experienced in farming and livestock raising are faced with new conditions of production; the changed scale of production industrial relations, economic arrangements, and many more. The lack of institutional development of the sector, in terms of marginalized extensive animal production systems, is also one of the weaknesses in agrarian policy. The absence of training or underdeveloped training and lack of information services to farmers in remote areas create many difficulties in production-marketing process. During the 20 years of independence, conserved indigenous knowledge about animal husbandry and traditional pasture management are facing serious problems on animal health control, choosing market-oriented and appropriate livestock species, feed shortage during winter time and unpredictable natural hazard in grazing land during other seasons. Limited income and high expenditure of making feed cause difficulties, and the nutrition value of winter feed is also low. Inadequacy of livestock nutrition and insufficient veterinary services increased diseases and parasites affecting livestock productivity. Increased livestock products are due to increase numbers of livestock. At the same time, forage shortage gave pressure to pastures. Large parts of pastures (near-village pastures) have already been overgrazed. A Significant decline in pasture productivity and unbalanced pasture composition with different types of degradation is acute. Conservation and rehabilitation of pastures have been largely ignored. There is a serious imbalance in pasture utilization; remote pastures, which are difficult to access by majority farmers, are underutilised. In other words, degradation of pastures affect biotic and abiotic factors such as increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation, high evaporation rate and wind erosion. Constraints to animal production systems are interdependent. One‘s stability or accessibility afford another development while degradation or changes increase others vulnerability. They cannot be solved in isolation or independently or just by providing some projects or policy intervention to one factor. The factors are interdependent, ignoring one of them causes another problem.

1.3       Objectives of the study

This study was therefore designed with the following specific objectives:

  1. To gain insight in the temporal and spatial availability of feed and its quality to target interventions in feed production and management in relation to animal production in two production systems of Ashanti Ghana.
  2. To investigate major constraints of animal feed supply in the selected areas.
  3. To assess the performance of cattle in the selected areas
  4. To develop advising strategies for the improvement of animal production.

1.4       Research questions

  1. What are the temporal and spatial availability of feed and its quality to target interventions in feed production and management in relation to animal production in two production systems of Ashanti Ghana?
  2. What are the major constraints of animal feed supply in the selected areas?
  3. What is the performance of cattle in the selected areas?
  4. What are the strategies for the improvement of animal production?

 1.5      Significance of the study

Animal production systems have played the main role in the economy of high altitude areas because the features of pastoral systems here suit the specific characteristics of these mountainous areas. During the Soviet time, ecologically or biophysically driven animal production systems lost importance as a result of the changing, socio-economically and politically determined circumstances in Ghana. Specialized livestock industry-collective systems had influenced rich nomadic traditional knowledge preservation. Other major changes were the shift from local breeds to centre-demand breeds with imported livestock feed from other Soviet countries. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave some opportunities to farmers and created new constraints also. New herd size and free access to pasture resources in some level facilitated the recovery of nomadic pastoral systems with mixture of modern market oriented production systems, the so called agro-pastoral systems. There is considerable increase taking place in livestock population at the district, region and national level. This study tried to identify the process which led to the adoption of livestock species, and herd composition at household level, explore linkages between livestock management, cropland and pastures, and outline the key constraints and strategies for the management of agro-pastoral systems in Ghana.

Two main factors contribute towards better results in livestock farming; the quality of the stock and its management. Dependence on livestock keeping and herd size accordingly are based on geographic location of farms and the availability of irrigated cropland areas. Where crop production is practicable, livestock are a crucial element of farming systems. Where extremes of climate and topography make crop production especially difficult, livestock can often live and thrive on available resources and provide livelihood necessities. A Study on interrelationship between crop and livestock, and derived income from them will be helpful to understand the socio-economic context of agro-pastoral systems under a market-based economy.

Easy access to seasonal pastures with rich nutritive and valuable forage plants, enhance livestock population, while market enhances selected composition of them. Productivity of pastures is varied according to geographical zones and climate conditions. Also, it is dynamic, pastoralists‘ knowledge in grazing management to conserve pasture biodiversity. One of the most important assets of most pastoralists is their rich knowledge of complex ecosystem dynamics, which make them often the best detectors of environmental change. Within this context, it is clear that any minor or major changes to climatic patterns will have significant consequences for many pastoralists, as it increases resource variability, while also reshaping its overall availability (Nori, 2007). The traditional indigenous knowledge of nomadic peoples—regarding seasonal pastures, grazing times, and the composition and quantity of grasses are valuable store of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). The findings of observations and measurements on pasture quality, in terms of composition, balance of species and climate factors, will be helpful to researchers and academicians for further research.

There are few studies about agro-pastoral production systems in South-Western Ghana. Further research is required to find out if the problems are common to small holders across the region and in the other regions of Ghana. Certain areas of animal husbandry on the small holdings could be further improved through more in depth research which would be crucial in finding out the feasibility of certain education and co-operative programs for the contribution of livestock to rural livelihoods.

This research tried to find out the common and specific gaps and priorities among production systems across the region and in the other regions of Ghana. It can also be a guideline to policy makers and researchers to improve certain areas of animal husbandry smallholdings.

1.6       Scope of the study

This study is carried out on the introduction to animal production. The study focused on the animal production in Ghana, using selected areas in both the rural and urban parts of Ashanti, Ghana.


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