CHAPTER 3 Back to Contents



Establishment of livestock industries in any country is a complex process.  Adequate resources, appropriate technology, investments, proper planning, correct policies and, above all, participation of the beneficiaries and a realistic time frame are essential components of livestock development strategies. These are not easy to achieve. It is frequently claimed that there would be no shortage of food in developing countries if only they could match the agricultural productivity that has been achieved in the industrialised world. In terms of output per unit of land, labour and feed there are enormous disparities in livestock production between the developed and the developing regions of the world (Table l.l). It is equally true that the high levels of animal productivity in the industrialised countries have been achieved through a disproportionate use of the world's resources (Borgstrom 1980), especially fossil fuels, marine fisheries and the protein-rich cakes and meals.


Table 1.1: Ruminant livestock productivity in (developed) and Third World (developing) countries.




Population (109)





Ruminant LU#



Ruminant meat production (kg/year)


Per caput



Per ruminant LU#



Per hectare



Milk production (kg/yr)


Per caput



Per ruminant LU#



Per hectare



Source: FAO 1980,
#LU = 400 kg live weight


Developing countries are important producers of oilseed cakes (Table 1.2) but most of these are consumed by European livestock, adding to the milk and meat mountains, which finally serve to restrict the market of Third World countries which need to export in order to earn foreign currency to pay their debts. The surpluses often become ``gifts" to developing countries which further restrict the possibilities for developing indigenous livestock industries.


Table 1.2: Industrialised countries are net importers and developing countries net exporters of oilseed cakes.


World trade in oilseed cakes (106 tonnes)




Net imports

Net exports

Industrialized countries





Developing countries





Source: Borgstrom 1980


The disparity in energy use is shown by the data in Table 1.3. While the energy consumed in the form of food (expressed as megajoules) is 50% higher per person in industrialized as compared with developing countries, the total energy used (eg. in manufactured goods, infrastructure, machinery and other services), is 600% higher. The ``efficient" animal industries of the industrialized countries would be much less efficient if their access to fossil fuel-derived inputs was limited to that presently imposed on the poorest countries.


 Table 1.3: The gap between the developing and the in­dustrialised countries is much greater in total energy use than it is for food energy.


Industrialized countries

Developing countries

Population (millions)



Energy consumption (GJ /person/year)
Food 5.1 3.4




Source: Porter 1983


It is relevant to this discussion to pose the question: why do we need highly productive animals? The argument frequently used by animal scientists is that biological efficiency is a direct function of rate of animal productivity. Almost unlimited goals have been set by animal geneticists for more milk per cow and more weight per day of age. The cost has been an increasing sophistication in nutrition to the point that only the most digestible feeds of high protein content (largely cereal and legume grains and oilseed meals) are selected in the least cost formulations.


For the industrialized countries, mostly situated in regions with temperate climates, it has not been too difficult to secure the required feed resources since cereals and highly nutritious forages can be readily grown. Countries without available land to grow these feeds (eg. Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Arabian countries), because of their industrial base or wealth from oil, were able to import these feeds at relatively low cost and release them to farmers at prices often highly subsidized.


Developing countries by definition do not have these assets. Most developing countries are situated in the tropics. Their economies do not generate the necessary foreign exchange to import the ``quality" feeds used in intensive animal production systems. Moreover, one can generalize and conclude that there are insufficient world resources---even if there was the wealth---for poor countries to aspire to the degree of resource use now enjoyed by the industrialized world.


The challenge that faces the planners in the developing countries is thus formidable: how to raise the standard of living by the rational use of their local resources, with only minimal inputs of resources from other parts of the world.



Early development strategies assumed that ``technology transfer" not ``research" was the key to progress. But it has been proved that, at least with ruminant livestock production, the direct transfer of technologies from developed to developing countries has rarely been successful by any standard---technical or economic.


Livestock production systems in the developed countries have a high degree of specialisation and high rates of animal productivity, usually approaching the genetic potential of the animals. These systems have developed because of the advantages to profitability conferred by large specialised production units which permit optimal use of capital, labour and feed.


The transfer of specialised animal production technologies from developed to developing countries, occasionally led to short-term gains in production of animal protein (eg. establishment of milk production colonies and intensive poultry enterprises on the outskirts of cities). However, the longer term consequences have been a ``dependency" on imported feeds and on ``superior" animals to take maximum advantage of the transferred systems. Such imports are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain in the light of the shortages of foreign exchange in almost all developing countries, and the higher priority attached to imports of oil and other more basic needs of a country's economy.  Another negative side effect of ``imported technologies" has been the serious neglect of indigenous breeds and feed resources and frequently excessively high production costs.


A specific example of a failure of technology transfer is the case of herbaceous tropical legumes. For the last 20 years, this has been a favourite topic for livestock planners who have extolled the role of legume-rich pastures in temperate countries such as New Zealand; and the success of Australian scientists in developing tropical legumes. But the technology has yet to provide the predicted breakthrough in tropical animal production.  The reason is primarily because the legume/grass system promoted by the grassland experts at times did not match the livestock systems promoted by their livestock counterparts. Tropical legume/grass pastures do not provide the balanced amounts of nutrients for dairy cows of high genetic merit; and they are often too expensive for specialised beef production which requires minimum inputs. Tropical legumes are likely to find their role in the development of ``dual purpose" (milk-beef) production which, although the system of choice of tropical farmers, has been almost completely unresearched.


A third example of transfer failure is the case of livestock feeding standards and nutrient requirements. From the economic standpoint, the fundamental flaw is the inherent concept of maximising livestock productivity, which results in attempts to find (usually means importing) the feeds to match the animals' needs for maximum production. But there are also technical difficulties, especially with feeds available in the tropics, where non-additive associated effects and interactions result in ``prediction" of performance from feed analysis being a poorer guide than the rule of thumb methods of the practicing farmer.



The increase in the price of fossil fuel has focussed attention on the need to find alternative and supplementary sources of energy, especially those that are renewable. The proportion of fossil fuels used for services and manufactured goods relative to food production is the major difference between developed and developing countries (Table 1.3).


Table 1.4 Projections of demand for energy and land surface for solar energy capture at different efficiencies of photosynthesis.

Assumptions: 1. World consumption is at existing rate of the industrialised countries 2. Total earth surface is 13,000 x 106 ha, of which 1,400 x 106 ha are cultivated.


Assuming that the additional energy that will be needed, in the future, by developing countries must come mainly from renewable sources, it is relevant to make some projections of the strategies needed to provide food for a future world population of l6 billion people (Table 1.4).


Table 1.4: Projections of demand for energy and land surface for solar energy capture at different efficien­cies of photosynthesis.




Population (109)



Total energy (109 KW)



Land surface (106 ha)



1 % efficiency



10% efficiency



Source: Porter (1983).

World consumption is at existing rate of the industrialised countries
. Total earth surface is 13,000 x 106 ha, of which 1,400 x 106 ha are cultivated.


To meet future food needs, Porter (1983) estimated that if the efficiency of solar energy capture by plants remains at the existing level (0.2%), the area of land under cultivation will have to be almost doubled (from 1400 to 2500 million hectares). Alternatively, the efficiency with which plants capture solar energy will have to be increased It is therefore disappointing to learn that, despite the dramatic increases in cereal grain production resulting from the ``green revolution", there has been no commensurate increase in the efficiency with which the new cereal crops capture solar energy. Apparently, grain yields have risen primarily because of changes in the partitioning of energy within the plant, and not because of overall increases in total plant productivity (Table 1.5).


Table 1.5. The impact of the green revolution

The impact green revolution has

·         Increased

o    Grain yield

o    Need for fossil-derived inputs

·         Decreased

o    Straw yield

o    Root development

o    Resistance to pests and diseases

The efficiency of solar energy capture has not changed!!

Source: Evans 1973


It is not easy to introduce technological innovations in livestock production at the level of the smallholder. Without adequate knowledge of taboos, customs and the sociology of village communities, the researcher has little hope of establishing methods to improve traditional systems. Subsistence farmers must first ensure their families' food supply. Only then can they think of improving the condition of their livestock. Thus, if technical innovations are to be successful, they must be introduced taking into account the following requirements:

The introduction of technologies is discussed in detail by Dolberg (1982, 1983) on the basis of experiences with the development of new livestock technologies in India and Bangladesh. His analytical framework for a livestock development strategy is given in Table 1.6. This illustrates the complex interactions that determine whether a new technology will be adopted by the farmer.

Table 1.6 An analytical framework for a live stock development strategy

Culture/ religion


Socio-economic aspects

Technical factors

a: Taboos

b: Skills


a : Climate

b: Ecological niche of animals

c: Adaptation to local environment d: Capture of solar energy

e: Centralised versus decentralised energy supply

f: Role of dung in

energy supply

g: Effect of mechanisation and population growth

a: Size of holding

b: Foreign currency account

c: Population density and growth

d: Savings and capital formation

e: Expected growth In Income

f: The institutional situation


a: The national feed budget

b: Integration/competition with food

c: Mortality and other wastes

d: Production levels and uses of animals

e: Lactation length and intercalving periods


Source: Dolberg 1983



There is an increasing awareness that direct transfer of technology from industrialised countries to the Third World may have led to more problems than progress. Many mistakes arose because of the original definition of the objectives of agricultural development, which tended to be simplistic (eg. to increase food production).


The critical situation with regard to food supplies in developing countries is most apparent where urbanisation has increased.  This has often been a product of the development strategy promoted during the previous two decades, which tended to make many people in agriculture redundant and thus led to increased urbanisation.


Provided that people remain in rural areas, food shortages are only a problem in times of disaster, be these from natural or artificial causes. It is the growth of cities that has distorted development. Employment opportunities in cities tempt people to leave the villages and at the same time may reduce the country's ability to produce food. The solution was believed to be to introduce so-called advanced technologies which would increase productivity. Unfortunately, most of these `advanced' technologies needed large inputs of energy. Technology transfer was feasible when fossil fuel was inexpensive, But now it is relatively expensive. The pressure to obtain fuel to promote or accelerate development has been mainly responsible for the serious financial and sociological problems in the poorer countries.


Technology alone is not enough; in fact, applied indiscriminately and out of the context of the local situation, technology can be harmful.


What are the alternatives? Attainable goals must be set and aims must be defined if there are to be sustainable solutions to these problems. The realisation that the poorest people in the developing world were those who had benefited least from the ``aid process" is leading to a redefinition of the ``target groups".  The world's poor mostly live in rural areas and are the major producers of food. Therefore, efforts to aid the rural poor will yield dividends both in increasing food supply and in reducing the migration of the population to urban areas, which are serious problems in emerging nations.


The objective of a rural-oriented development strategy can be defined as being:

The role of agricultural education and research in this development strategy is not easy to define. It was much simpler in the ``technological era". For instance, to increase animal productivity can be quite a simple exercise. Simply by transplanting systems based on concentrate diets. However, when the technology has to fit into the framework of a village, then socio-economic factors and interactions and associated effects limit its application.


Not only the implementation but also the design of technologies requires the involvement of multidisciplinary teams of scientists and technologists.


Measuring the impact of a proposed innovation becomes more difficult as the goals broaden. How does one measure ``well- being" of a family? What is the role of livestock as a means of improving the standard of living or the quality of life? Increasing fuel resources at the village level will be as important as generating more food. In many ways `household' fuel is becoming an important constraint to development since, as fuel becomes scarcer, more effort is required to collect it. As a result a considerable amount of family labour is diverted to this activity (Laumark 1982; Gill and Sultana 1982).


The technique evolved by Slessor and his colleagues for measuring the impact of technology in terms of energy transfers is an appropriate way to assess change (Lewis and Slessor 1982). Innovations that lead to increased fixation of solar energy and atmospheric nitrogen as biomass, and reduction of wastes through recycling, have important ecological advantages as well as contributing to greater self-reliance in village societies.


The scientists who participate in the evolution of these strategies must have, in addition to their particular specialisation, a broad experience and understanding of development issues. In the words of Tarte (1984):

The long-term training of agricultural students from developing countries in advanced institutions overseas has also created special difficulties of identifying priorities for research and development.



The challenge to agricultural scientists is thus as formidable as that facing the sociologists and economists; the task must be to maximise energy production from biomass while maintaining food supplies of high nutritional value. This should be done in the framework of an overall strategy which rates socio-economic issues of employment creation (utilisation of local resources) more important than technical yardsticks; and where ``self- reliance" is emphasised rather than ``self-sufficiency".


The identification of needs and a careful study of existing resources---feeds, livestock and farmers---are essential first steps, resources must be examined in the broadest sense of soils and climate and crops which might be grown.


Livestock systems must be matched with the resources in a way that aims for economic optimisation rather than biological maximisation.


New technologies have to be developed, but it may be more important to start with the improvement of existing ones. The present passion for ``farming systems research" is a result of the belated recognition that Third World farmers are much wiser and more knowledgeable than planners or livestock specialists when it comes to use of local resources.



The argument for giving priority to the development of pig and poultry production in developing countries is based on the high feed-conversion efficiency of these species and their high reproductive capacity when fed grain-based diets. These arguments do not recognise that ruminants are non-competitive with people, and when the diet is properly supplemented, are able to convert fibrous feeds into protein of high biological value.


The ``superiority" of pigs and poultry is only apparent when grain-based feeds are available at low cost. Additionally, pig and poultry production need high levels of management skills and controlled environments (good housing with control of temperature and humidity, and adequate disease prevention). Without these inputs, the improved breeds (that are an essential component of the superior performance) have difficulty in surviving, let alone producing. As some of the inputs are dependent on foreign exchange expenditure, these constraints will become increasingly difficult to overcome in developing countries.


The efficiency of ruminant production systems cannot be measured simply as total feed use per unit of production, since the basal component of a diet is frequently a residue or byproduct that has little other commercial value. In this situation, efficiency may be regarded as the utilisation of the supplement component, which has alternative uses (eg. for export, feeding to monogastric animals or even in the human diet). The comparison is then between conversion rates of 2 to 4 kg grain per kg liveweight for pigs and poultry and the conversion of supplement in a diet based on crop residues or byproducts fed to ruminants which can sometimes be less than 1:1 (eg. use of fish meal in diets based on molasses and ammoniated straw) and is usually in the range of 1 to 2kg of supplement per kilogram of liveweight gain (Table 1.7; see also Chapters 7 and 8).

Table 1.7: Some selected examples of the effects of supplements rich in bypass protein (BP) on the liveweight gain and supplement conversion (kg gain/kg supplement) of cattle fed different basal diets all supple­mented with adequate levels of fermentable nitrogen

Bypass protein


Growth rate (g/d)









Fish meal





Preston and Willis (1974)

Fish meal

Rice straw*




Saadullah (1984)


Dry pasture




Lindsay and Loxton (1981)

#Amount of supplement (kg) fed for each kilogram of additional gain liveweight compared with the unsupplemented diet
* Ammoniated by urea-ensiling method

Although the arguments in favour of ruminant-based livestock industries are complex, the major advantage is in the amount of fossil-fuel-based inputs needed, which may be almost zero in village-based systems. When supplements high in protein and/or fat are scarce, ruminants certainly should have priority over non-ruminants.



Livestock development projects in Third World countries have often failed because technologies were transferred without appropriate consideration of local conditions.


An analysis of the background to these developments usually highlights the problem of ``communication" (Figure 1.1). It is relatively easy to introduce technologies from the industrialized countries because communications from industrialized to developing nations are usually well established. By contrast, the experience of developing a technology in one developing country is rarely transmitted in a form accessible to a large section of the scientific community in a second developing country, as mechanisms for doing this are not well developed.


Figure 1.1 The communication barrier.

There are three major issues:

All issues concerned with development are sensitive to communication. The great need is to share experiences among developing countries which are broadly similar with respect to ecological conditions and socio-economic constraints.


It is obvious that technologies which have proved to be successful in tropical Asia are more likely to succeed in tropical Africa than technologies imported from Europe or North America. Equally, ongoing research in Africa is almost certainly of relevance to Central and South America and the Caribbean. The industrialised countries can contribute significantly to developing countries by exporting principles rather than technologies.


The difficulty is communication in a number of areas, for example:

There are very specific barriers to communication among scientists in developing countries. There is an enormous disparity in the number of publications emanating from industrialized as compared with developing countries.


Three factors make communication difficult:

Most scientific journals are published in English and most young scientists trained in non-English speaking countries have difficulty in reading in English. The second problem is that scientists in English-speaking countries often do not read another language, thus scientists who publish in journals not written in English find that their work is rarely cited in world literature.


The scientific article from a developing country has to compete for space in journals controlled largely by scientists from the industrialized countries. Facilities and resources often limit the scope of the research which usually must emphasise local application rather than originality. The result is that much valuable work is often inaccessible to scientists in other developing countries.


What can be done? International Aid Agencies could recognize that investment in ``communication" is the most appropriate of all forms of aid for it contributes to ``self-reliance" to ``helping people to help themselves."


There is great need for an international journal in livestock science which:

There is also need for text books which combine and interpret experience from both the developed and developing countries. This book has been written with this objective in mind.



From the discussion so far it is apparent that many of the livestock production systems in the industrialised countries are not appropriate for most of the Third World. The highly specialised and intensive animal production systems developed in the industrialised countries have led to the promotion of breeds of livestock and feeding and management systems that are often inappropriate under the conditions of most developing countries. Future agricultural development strategies should be based to a greater extent on integrated systems and should take into account the use of biomass for fuel as well as for animal feed.


More appropriate objectives for agricultural development must be identified, of which livestock must be an integral part. Broad guide-lines of a strategy through which these goals can be achieved have to be established. The primary objectives of this strategy should be:

There are many components in the development strategy that are needed to achieve these goals. Some of the more important features are:

It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss the many components of agricultural development mentioned above. There is, however, an increasing realisation that livestock play a fundamental, often catalytic role in development processes. In most developing countries, the main source of cash income of most subsistence farmers and all pastoral groups arises from the sale of livestock and livestock products (Leng and Brumby 1985). Livestock are also a source of credit. They provide draught power for crop production and provide milk, meat and hides. Within the existing farming systems there is considerable scope for increasing animal productivity and reducing costs by making more efficient use of locally available resources.


The key concept for bringing about improvements in livestock feeding in the developing world centres on the optimal use of available resources, rather than maximising individual animal productivity.


In order to facilitate the application of the principle of ``matching livestock systems with the available resources", we have :

Having established the way in which feeds are used by ruminants, particularly feeds which are imbalanced, we have set out:

To validate our approach, we have presented:

We have discussed:

Finally, we have attempted to identify:

We hope that the contents of this book will help to distill and fractionate existing knowledge with a view to intensifying our research efforts in the quest for even more ``appropriate livestock production systems matched to available resources".


Gujarat villagers proudly display the molasses/urea blocks which they feed to their oxen to improve work performance. In the background dung is being dried for future use as fuel (lndia-Leng R A)

Manure patties are dried and then stored for future use as fuel (India..Leng R A )



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