Discovery Science: Physics and Technology – Technology – Animal Husbandry

Physics and Technology – Technology – Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry includes the keeping, feeding, and care of animals. It is not only an agricultural practice, it also extends to the keeping of pets and zoo animals.

Wild animals were first domesticated around 10,000 years ago when aurochs (forerunners of modern cattle), wild pigs, and wolves began to be bred by early farmers. Most breeds of farm animals today have been domesticated.

However wild animals are also sometimes kept in enclosures for the production of venison and other game products. Animals are kept primarily for economic purposes: to be sold to provide food and raw materials. In some countries, however, animals are also used to provide transportation.

Factory farming practices

To increase productivity and decrease production costs, animals are often kept in the smallest amount of space possible. For example, some egg-laying hens are kept in cage arrangements called “laying batteries.” These factory farming methods have reduced the price of meat and meat products, making them readily available and affordable for people in industrialized countries.


Keeping farm animals for their meat is known as producing “feeder animals.” The animals most widely used for meat include beef cattle, hogs, and poultry. Special feed mixes and hormones can be used to hasten the growth of farm animals and thus get them ready for sale sooner. Hormone use, however, is now prohibited in many countries due to health
risks for consumers.

Milk and eggs

Animal husbandry is also used to produce milk and eggs. Dairy cows are generally used for milk production in Europe and North America, but sheep, goats, and water buffalo are also kept for this purpose. Dairy cattle are kept in either tie stalls or pens where they enjoy relatively free movement.


Husbandry practices based on the animals’ natural living conditions are known as animal-appropriate husbandry practices. Here, the animals maintain their innate behavioral patterns, which is not possible under factory farming conditions.

Animals appropriate husbandry practices include adequate living space and natural or near natural feed. In economic terms, using these practices to produce agricultural commodities takes more effort and is more expensive. Collecting eggs takes longer, milking requires more work, and the animals gain weight more slowly because they are free to move about.

However, the animals are healthier and there are far fewer negative environmental impacts. Due to this, animal- appropriate practices are most often applied in organic and ecological agriculture.