Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Most livestock are herbivores, except for pigs and chickens which are omnivores.

Livestock Production VI (Cattle)

Most farming communities choose between the exotic and the’ local breeds or their crosses depending on the environmental conditions.

Whereas the backbone of the beef industry is made up of the indigenous animals and their crosses and based in the somewhat drier areas, the-dairy industry is mainly based on the exotic breeds and their crosses and common in the wetter regions.

Whatever production is undertaken, the returns depend mostly on the management levels provided to these animals.

A productive herd starts with good management of the young stock.

Raising of Young- Stock. The young one of cattle is known as a calf.

Feeding Dairy Calves

Newborn calves should be given colostrums within the first 3-5 days of their life.

Colostrum is important for the following reasons:

  1. It is highly digestible.
  2. It contains antibiotics.
  3. It is highly nutritious.
  4. It serves as a laxative.
  5. It is highly palatable.
  6. Calves can be fed using natural method (direct suckling) or artificially/bucket feeding.

Natural Method

In this method, calves suckle the mother directly.


  • The calf takes milk at body temperature.
  • The milk is free from contaminants.
  • Less problems of scouring.


  1. Underfeeding of the calf may result.
  2. Cows may not let down milk in case the calf dies.
  3. Difficult to keep accurate production records.

Artificial/Bucket Feeding

The calf is trained to feed from the bucket immediately after birth.

The calf is trained as follows:

  1. Well measured milk is put in a clean bucket.
  2. Index finger is inserted into the mouth of the calf.
  3. The head of the calf is lowered slowly into the bucket until the calf starts to drink the milk.
  4. The finger is withdrawn slowly as the calf continues to drink from the bucket.
  5. The procedure is repeated until the calf gets used to the process.


  1. Easy to keep accurate production record/milk yields of the cow.
  2. Possible to regulate the amount of milk given to the calf
  3. The cow does not need the presence of the calf in order to let down milk
  4. Easy to maintain high hygiene standards.


  1. Laborious
  2. Calf may be given cold milk
  3. Equipment used and the stockman may be dirty leading to scours.

Preparation of artificial colostrums

Ingredients used

  • A fresh egg whipped in 0.86 litres of warm water
  • Litre of warm water
  • One teaspoonful of cod liver oil
  • One table-spoonful of castor oil
  • Note; colostrums is fed to the calves three times a day for the first 4 days of life and thereafter twice a day.

    Weaning of calves

    Early Weaning

  • A calf is fed on whole milk up to the tenth week then it is weaned
  • A calf is given milk equal to 10% of its body weight up to the 8“ week
  • After the 8th week, milk is reduced gradually by 1 kg until weaning
  • A calf is given early weaning concentrates and soft forage. Below is an Early Weaning Guide

    Late weaning

  • Calf is fed on whole milk up to the 3’d week, when milk is replaced gradually with skim milk.
  • At the age of 3weeks, the calf is introduced to calf pellets or pencils and green fodder
  • The calf is given plenty of clean water.
  • The calf continues to be given additional skim milk up to the age of 14 weeks when a maximum amount of milk is given.
  • Skim milk is reduced from 14 weeks to 16 weeks when weaning is done

    Rearing of replacement stock

The replacement stock includes young heifers and bulls which have been selected for breeding to replace the old stock.

Management Practice

Parasite Control-Spraying against external parasites and deworming against internal parasites.Disease Control-Calves are vaccinated routinely against diseases such as; > Blackquater-at 4 months old, Anthrax and Blackquater at 6 months old, Brucellosis – 3-8 months old (heifers).

Castration – for male calves not selected for breeding.

Identification – Suitable methods are used. It allows proper record keeping.

Removal of Extra Teats ;> These teats are known as supernumerary teats which make milking of the animal difficult.  They are clipped off with teat clippers.

Dehorning/Disbudding – The removal of horn buds using suitable methods.Calf Housing

Requirement of a Calf Pen;

  1. Should be clean and easy to clean.
  2. Be warm and dry.
  3. Have adequate space to allow exercise and feeding.
  4. Should be properly lit and allow sunlight for Vitamin D.
  5. Have proper drainage to avoid dampness.
  6. Draught free to prevent chilling.
  7. Be well ventilated to allow fresh air.

Types of Pens

These can be either permanent or mobile/movable.

Features of Permanent Pens

  1. Have a solid floor raised above the ground.
  2. The floor should be slanted for drainage.
  3. Constructed near the milking parlour.

Features of Mobile/Movable Pens

  1. Have an open floor to allow grass into the pen.
  2. Easily moved from one place to another to avoid soiling.
  3. Kept outdoors in the pastures to allow the calf to nibble on pastures.

Single Housing

Calves should be housed singly up to the age of 3 weeks, when they are put in group pens.

This is to avoid them licking each other and swallowing hairs which form indigestible balls.

Milk and Milking

Milk is the white lacteal substance secreted by the mammary glands of the female mammals.

Composition of Milk

Protein – Casein and whey.

Fat – Butter fat.

Carbohydrates – Lactose

Minerals – mainly calcium and phosphorus.


Factors Affecting Milk Composition

  1. Age of the animal.
  2. Conditions of the animal.
  3. Stage of lactation and pregnancy.
  4. Completeness of milking.
  5. Type of breed.
  6. Season of the year.
  7. Type of food eaten.
  8. Physiological conditions such as diseases.

Milk Secretion and Milk Let-down

Milk is secreted by the mammary glands which are an accessory gland of the reproductive system.

The mammary gland of a cow is known as an udder.

Structure of the udder

The udder is composed of the following parts:

  1. Alveolus cells – synthesize and secrete milk.
  2. Lobule – a group of alveolus cells.
  3. Lobe – Several lobules grouped together and drained by lactiferous ducts.
  4. Gland cistern – space where milk collects from the lobes.
  5. Teat cistern – A space where milk collects before emission.
  6. Teat -An organ which drains each quarter of the udder.

Milk Secretion

The process of milk secretion is known as lactogenesis.

The digested food is taken to the udder via blood vessels.

In the udder, the nutrients are carried into the alveoli cells where metabolic reactions take place to build up these nutrients into milk.

A hormone prolactin is secreted by the pituitary gland which brings about lactogenesis.

The milk secreted is then stored in the upper parts of the udder waiting to be released.

Milk Let-Down

The process of milk let-down occurs naturally when the animal is stimulated.

Milk secreted moves from the alveolar region through the ducts to the gland cistern.

Oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland causes the contraction of the udder muscles forcing the milk down the teats.

Oxytocin hormone lasts 7 -10 minutes in the bloodstream hence fast milking is important to withdraw the milk.

Milk is withdrawn from the teats by gently squeezing them.

Factors Influencing Milk Let-Down

  1. Presence of the calf.
  2. Presence of the milkman/milker.
  3. Rattling of the milk equipment.
  4. Site of the food/feeding the animal.
  5. Massaging or washing the udder.
  6. The sight of the milking parlour.

Factors inhibiting Milk Let-Down

  1. Beating the animal/inflicting pain to the animal.
  2. Presence of strangers and animals for example dogs.
  3. Poor milking techniques.
  4. Absence of the calf (in case the cow is used to it).

Clean Milk Production

The following factors are essential for clean milk production:

  1. A healthy lactating cow.
  2. A healthy and clean milker.
  3. Clean and properly constructed milking parlour.
  4. Clean and disinfected milking equipment.
  5. Proper handling of the milk after milking.

Milking Procedure

The animals are brought near the milking parlour 15-20 minutes before milking to get into the mood of being milked.

Milking materials such as equipment feeds, ropes, stools and salve are collected and placed near the milking parlour.

The animals are allowed into the milking stall one by one as the milking proceeds as follows:

The animal is restrained in the stall.

A feed is weighed and placed into the feed trough.

The udder is thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried with a clean cloth.

A strip cup is used to test for mastitis on each quarter.

Milking proceeds by squeezing the teats with the full hand. If machine milking the teat cups are placed on the teats.

For hand, milking start with the hindquarters and finish with the forequarters.

Fast milking should take about 8 minutes then end with stripping the udder.

The milk is weighed and recorded.

The animal is then released.

Dry Cow Therapy

This is the infusion of antibiotics into the teat canal of a cow that is preparing for drying off.

It prevents bacterial infection which leads to mastitis.

Milk Products

Pasteurized milk – milk that is heated and cooled immediately.

Ultra Heat Treated (U HT) – milk heated to a temperature of 130-135C, packed and then cooled.

Butter – Milk butterfat separated by a process known as churning.

Cream -A layer of is: that collects at the top of the milk when left to stand.

Cheese – Milk proteins which have been compressed.

Ghee – Milk fat made from heating cream or butter.

Skim milk – Milk without butterfat



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