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Animal husbandry is an aspect of animal captivity and is the agricultural practice of animal breeding and raising livestock.



Yak herd in Tibet

Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals.

In more modern times, the cowboys of North America, charros of Mexico, or vaqueros, gauchos, huasos of South America, and farmers or stockmen of Australia tend their herds on horses, and now various vehicles depending on the terrain and livestock concerned.

Today, herd managers often oversee thousands of animals and many staff. Farms, sheep stations and ranches may employ breeders, herd health specialists, feeders, and milkers to help care for the animals.


Techniques such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer are frequently used today, not only as methods to guarantee that females breed regularly but also to help improve herd genetics.

This may be done by transplanting embryos from stud-quality females into flock-quality surrogate mothers - freeing up the stud-quality mother to be reimpregnated. This practice vastly increases the number of offspring which may be produced by a small selection of stud-quality parent animals. On the one hand, this improves the ability of the animals to convert feed to meat, milk, or fibre more efficiently, and improve the quality of the final product. On the other, it decreases genetic diversity, increasing the severity of disease outbreaks among other risks.

See also


  • Saltini Antonio, Storia delle scienze agrarie, 4 vols, Bologna 1984-89, ISBN 88-206-2412-5, ISBN 88-206-2413-3, ISBN 88-206-2414-1, ISBN 88-206-2415-X
  • Clutton Brock Juliet, The walking larder. Patterns of domestication, pastoralism and predation, Unwin Hyman, London 1988
  • Clutton Brock Juliet, Horse power: a history of the horse and donkey in human societies, National history Museum publications, London 1992
  • Fleming G., Guzzoni M., Storia cronologica delle epizoozie dal 1409 av. Cristo sino al 1800, in Gazzetta medico-veterinaria, I-II, Milano 1871-72
  • Hall S, Clutton Brock Juliet, Two hundred years of British farm livestock, Natural History Museum Publications, London 1988
  • Janick Jules, Noller Carl H., Rhykerd Charles L., The Cycles of Plant and Animal Nutrition, in Food and Agriculture, Scientific American Books, San Francisco 1976
  • Manger Louis N., A History of the Life Sciences, M. Dekker, New York, Basel 2002

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