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Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated animals. They are a prominent modern member of the sub family “Bovinae”, and are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, they are also commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenus. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (beef), as dairy animals for milk and other dairy products, and as draft animals (oxen or bullocks) (pulling carts, plows and the like). Other products include leather and dung for manure or fuel. In some countries, such as India, cattle are sacred. From as few as 80 progenitors domesticated in southeast Turkey about 10,500 years ago,[i]an estimated 1.3 billion cattle are in the world today.[ii] In 2009, cattle became the first livestock animal to have a fully mapped genome.[iii]
Cattle have one stomach with four compartments (rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum) and they are the most efficient users of uncultivated land and can contribute substantially to crop production.
Cattle are ruminants, meaning their digestive system allows use of otherwise indigestible foods by regurgitating and rechewing them as "cud". The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialized microorganisms in the rumen. These microbes are primarily responsible for decomposing cellulose and other carbohydrates into volatile fatty acids cattle use as their primary metabolic fuel.
They are quite a number of breeds of cattle in Nigeria, among them are;
Specific to cattle production, there are management practices that are implemented and in return have dramatic financial benefits, they include, but are not limited to;
· Cross breeding to improve cattle quality
· Improve grazing management
Animal production in many African countries contribute 20 – 30 percent of Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (Ag GDP) (Anon, 2004). In countries such as Botswana, Mauritania and Namibia, this may reach 80% (Abassa, 1995). Livestock account for one third of Nigeria's agricultural GDP, providing income, employment, food, farm energy, manure, fuel and transport. They are also a major source of government revenue. The contributions of the agricultural sector to the Nation’s economy in the pre and postcolonial era when agriculture was the main thrust of the economy cannot be over emphasized.
Animal agriculture is an indispensable pre-requisite towards the sustainability of human development. (Oluwafemi, et al, 2001) .
The meat of adult cattle is known as beef. Other animal parts are also used as food products, including blood, liver, kidney, heart and oxtail. Cattle also produce milk, and dairy cattle are specifically bred to produce the large quantities of milk processed and sold for human consumption. Cattle today are the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. The international trade in beef for 2000 was over $30 billion and represented only 23% of world beef production.[iv] The production of milk, which is also made into cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products, is comparable in economic size to beef production, and provides an important part of the food supply for many of the world's people. Cattle hides, used for leather to make shoes, couches and clothing, are another widespread product. Cattle remain broadly used as draft animals in many developing countries, such as India.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Livestock accounts for 18-20% of Nigeria’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with livestock alone accounting for 4.5 – 5% (FAO,1987). In the same vein, anon (2006) reported that the Nigerian agricultural sector has continue to play a pivotal role in the rapid economic transformation of the Nation with the impressive performance accounting for 41% of the Country’s Gross Domestic Product, 80% of the non – oil foreign exchange earnings and over 60% of active labour force in the country.
Diseases that affect cattle include;
Foot and mouth disease
External parasites (Horn flies, face flies, stable flies, ticks, lice and mites)
Contagious bovine pleuro pneumonia
Control of these diseases and pests can be done by vaccination, use of antibiotics, quarantining newly purchased cattle, slaughtering and burning of infected cattle e.t.c. But on a general note, the ability of restoring the Nigeria’s agricultural sector depends largely on the collective and sincere commitment of all stakeholders and parastatals hugely involved in the sector.
Some terms used in describing cattle are;
· Bull; an intact adult male.
· Cow; an adult female.
· Heifer; a young female before she has had a calf.
· Calf; young cattle of both sexes before they are weaned.
· Weaning; a process of withdrawing an infant from the mother’s milk and introducing them to their “would be” diet.
· Ox; castrated male cattle.
· Beef cattle; cattle raised for meat production.
· Dairy cattle; cattle raised for milk production.
· Moo; a sound made by cattle.
· Gestation period; the time in which a fetus develops, beginning with fertilization and ending at birth (its nine months for cow).
Cattle are often raised by allowing herds to graze on the grasses of large tracts of rangeland. Raising cattle in this manner allows the use of land that might be unsuitable for growing crops. The most common interactions with cattle involve daily feeding, cleaning and milking. Many routine husbandry practices involve ear tagging, dehorning, loading, medical operations, vaccinations and hoof care, as well as training for agricultural shows and preparations. Also, some cultural differences occur in working with cattle; the cattle husbandry of Fulani men rests on behavioral techniques, whereas in Europe, cattle are controlled primarily by physical means, such as fences.[v]
[i] Source; Bollongino, Ruth & al. Molecular Biology and Evolution. "Modern Taurine Cattle descended from small number of Near-Eastern founders". 7 Mar 2012. Accessed 2 Apr 2012. Op. cit. in Wilkins, Alasdair. io9.com. "DNA reveals that cows were almost impossible to domesticate". 28 Mar 2012. Accessed 2 Apr 2012.
[ii] Source; Breeds of Cattle at “cattle today”.
[iii] Source; Brown, David (2009-04-23). "Scientists Unravel Genome of the Cow". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
[iv] Culled from; Clay, J. 2004. World Agriculture and the Environment: A Commodity-by-Commodity Guide to Impacts and Practices. Washington, D.C., USA: Island Press. ISBN 1-55963-370-0.
[v] Lott, Dale F.; Hart, Benjamin L. (October 1979). "Applied ethology in a nomadic cattle culture". Applied Animal Ethology (Elsevier B.V.) 5 (4): 309–319. doi:10.1016/0304-3762(79)90102-0.
Courtesy; Umar, Abba Sidi Shehu (2007). Financial analysis of small scale beef fattening enterprise in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. An unpublished M.Sc. Thesis, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, ABU Zaria.
Source; Anon (2004). Realizing the promise and potentials of African agriculture. Inter Academy council, 2004, 267pp.
Source; Abassa, K.P (1995). Improving food security in Africa: the ignored contribution of livestock. Joint ECA/FAO Agricultural Division Monograph No.14, United Nation Economic Commission of Africa and Food and Agricultural Organization. Addis Ababa.
Source; Oluwafemi,R.A., Ilemobade, A.A and Laseinde, E.A.O (2001). Study of Tsetse fly and bovine trypanosomosis in the Biological control of tsetse fly project area in Lafia Local Government of Nasarawa State, Nigeria. An unpublished Master’s Degree Thesis Report, Federal University of Technology, Akure. Ondo State, July 2001.165pp.