Animal Science Project Topics

Introduction to Animal Production

Introduction to Animal Production

Introduction to Animal Production

Chapter One

Objectives of the study

This study was therefore designed with the following specific objectives:

  1. To gain insight in the temporal and spatial availability of feed and its quality to target interventions in feed production and management in relation to animal production in two production systems of Ashanti Ghana.
  2. To investigate major constraints of animal feed supply in the selected areas.
  3. To assess the performance of cattle in the selected areas
  4. To develop advising strategies for the improvement of animal production.



 Animal production Systems in Ghana

The diversity of Ashanti Ghana’s topography, climate and cultural conditions make it difficult to generalize about animal production systems in the country (Alemayehu, 1985).Numerous authors used different criteria to classify animal production systems in Ghana. However, about five production systems have been identified based on integration of livestock with crop production, level of input and intensity of production, agro-ecology and market orientation. The following systems have been defined viz. pastoral, agro-pastoral, mixed crop-livestock farming, urban and peri-urban dairy farming and specialized intensive dairy farming systems (MoA, 1997; Yoseph, 1999; Mohammed et al., 2004; Yitay, 2007).

In the lowland agro-ecological setup with pastoral production system, livestock do not provide inputs for crop production but are the very backbone of life for their owners, providing all of the consumable saleable outputs and, in addition, representing a living bank account and form of insurance against adversity (Coppock, 1994). This system is characterized by sparsely populated pastoral rangelands, where subsistence of the pastoralists is mainly based on livestock and livestock products. The animals husbandry in this system is dominated by goats, cattle, sheep and camels. Since the main source of food is milk, pastoralists tend to keep large herds to ensure sufficient milk supply and generate income (IBC, 2004).

Agro-pastoral form of animal production system dominates in mid agro-ecological zones where a tendency for crop production has shown besides animal production. Agropastoralists are sedentary farmers who grow crops and raise livestock. Livestock are used for draught, savings and milk production. The production system is subsistence type of milk and or meat production (Zinash et al., 2001; Alemayehu, 2004). Cattle and small stock play a critical role in the agro-pastoralist household economy. Agro-pastoralists tend to retain female stock to produce milk and to maintain the reproductive potential of the herd. Oxen are also important for draft so that stock sold tend to be oxen and cows, which have lost their productive capacity. However, because average herd size is generally low, many herders are increasingly forced to sell young males and even females of optimum reproductive age (ILRI, 1995).

In the Urban animal production system, animals are part of a mixed subsistence farming complex (Alemayehu, 1987). Livestock provide inputs (draught power, transport, manure) to other parts of the farm system and generate consumable or saleable outputs (milk, manure, meat, hides and skins, wool, hair and eggs). About 88% of the human population, 70% of cattle and sheep, 30% of goats and 80% of equines are found in this region (Alemayehu, 2004). The principal objective of farmers engaged in mixed farming is to gain complementary benefit from an optimum mixture of crop and livestock farming and spreading income and risks over both crop and animal production (Lemma and Smit, 2004; Solomon, 2004).

Urban and peri-urban production systems are developed in areas where the population density is high and agricultural land is shrinking due to urbanization around big cities like Ashanti and other regional towns. In this system crossbred animals (ranging from F1 to a higher blood level of exotic breeds mainly Holstein Friesian) are kept in small to medium-sized farms. Urban and peri-urban production systems include commercial to smallholder dairy farms. Such farms are reported to be found in and around major cities (Ashanti) and other regional towns. This sector own most of the country’s improved dairy stock (Tsehay, 2002; Mohamed et al., 2003; Sintayehu et al., 2008). The main source of feed is both home produced or purchased hay and the primary objective is to get additional cash income from milk sale (Yitay, 2008).

Intensive dairy farming predominated by the state sector and urban and peri-urban private milk production has developed in and around major cities and towns with high demand for milk (Felleke and Geda, 2001). The system comprised of small and medium sized dairy farms located in the Urbans are based on the use of purebred exotic or high grade and crossbred dairy stock. Farmers use all or part of their land for fodder production and purchase of concentrate is also another source of feed (Yoseph, 1999).




Overview of the Study

This study was conducted in two animal production systems viz. peri-urban dairy system of the Urbans and mixed-crop livestock system of the Rural (CRV). Domeabra, Abuakwa and Aprade were considered to represent the Urban peri-urban dairy system while Amansie West District was a representation of CRV animal production system. In this study, periurban system constitutes those dairy farms which are located outside of the city/town’s boundary (a distance of 5 to 10 kilometers), produce milk and deliver the same to city/towns. Crossbred cows with any exotic blood level inheritance were used for the peri-urban dairy system of the Urban. Variables under productive and reproductive performance of cattle were estimated based on the farmer’s estimation.

Sampling Procedures

A reconnaissance survey was conducted in order to select specific peasant associations (PA), livestock farmers and to get general picture of the study sites. Secondary information from Woreda and Zonal Agricultural and Rural Development offices was also utilized to assist in the selection of PAs. The Urban peri-urban dairy system was represented by Domeabra, Aprade and Abuakwa, which were later stratified into small and medium herd size dairy farms based on the number of crossbred cows they possess. Large scale commercial dairy farms (own more than 10 crossbred dairy cows) were not considered in this study since they are already part of the commercial system and relatively better access to feed and other resources. Accordingly, dairy farms with less than three crossbred dairy cows were categorized as small herd size, while those who had above 3 and less than 10 were considered as medium herd size (ILRI, 1996). Twenty dairy farms (10 from each small and medium herd size) were purposively selected from the peri-urban system of each town in the Urban production system. Thus, a total of 60 dairy farms (20 from each site ) were selected from the Urban peri-urban areas.

The mixed crop-animal production system of the Rural was represented by Amansie West District area. A total of 9 PAs were identified from Amansie West District and the surrounding areas based on accessibility and availability of livestock. A total of 60 farmers from 9 PAs were selected purposively from the list of farmers who had livestock based on the same criteria.



 Farming Systems Characteristics

Household characteristics

In the Urban (Domeabra, Sebta and Aprade) system, about 86.7% of the respondents were male dairy farmers while 13.3% were females (Table 1). In the Rural (around Amansie West District) out of 60 livestock farmers considered, 93% and 7% were male and female headed households, respectively. The results of the current work differ from the report of Azage (2004) who reported 33% female headed households and 67% male headed household livestock keepers in Ashanti. Less number of female headed households involved in livestock keeping in the current study could probably be due to cultural issues that force females to get married and/or for economic reason. Of the interviewed households in the Rural (CRV), 68% of the household heads had one wife while the rest 30% had two or more wives and the remaining 2% did not marry yet. Polygamy type of marriage is fairly uncommon in the Urban study areas as compared to the Rural. The average number of children per household in the Urbans was 1.6 while for CRV the average was 5.2. It could presumably be associated with the wealth status and a number of children are required so as to meet the labor force for different farm operations and also considered as a means of security in CRV. Similarly, study by Agajie et al. (2005) indicated that having many wives is one of wealth indicators and commonly practiced type of marriage in the Rural.




In this study, assessment of available feed resources was conducted in two animal production systems viz. peri-urban dairy system of the Urbans and mixed-crop livestock system of the Rural (CRV). Domeabra, Abuakwa and Aprade were considered to represent the Urban peri-urban dairy system while Amansie West District was a representation of CRV animal production system. Among the Urban peri-urban study sites only farmers at Domeabra had farmlands while those at Aprade and Abuakwa did not have any farm land. In the Urban crop-livestock mixed farming system is dominant. The peri-urban dairy system of the Urban is focused on crossbred dairy cows of any exotic blood level inheritance while in the Rural system animals were of indigenous breed types. A survey was undertaken in both Urban and Rural production systems and data were collected  on family structure, farm size, land use pattern, herd size, herd composition, purpose of livestock raising, daily milk yield, crop grain yield, major crops grown, livestock feed types, feed markets, milk price, milk market place, age at first parturition, calving interval, lactation length, days open, mating systems, dry matter (DM) production, quantity of total feed and types of houses to keep livestock. Laboratory analysis was carried out to evaluate chemical composition and nutritive value of major feed resources collected from each study site.

The survey results indicated that the mean herd size per household in both Urban and Rural was 15.6 TLU. The average number of sheep per household was significantly (P<0.05) higher in the Urban production system whereas the average number of goats was the higher in the Rural. The average number of horses per household was much larger (P<0.05) at Domeabra than the rest of the study sites.

Assessment of feed resources indicated that Urban production system is dominated by intensive and specialized dairy farmers where most of the time depend on purchased feeds. In the Rural, animal production system is extensive and largely depends on grazing lands and crop residues. In Aprade and Abuakwa, there was no grazing land available and cattle do not have access to grazing. Feed types commonly used in these areas include grass hay, agro-industrial by products (noug cake and wheat bran), freshly cut green feeds, crop residues, brewery wet grains and local brewery by-products like Atela. The major feed resources in the Rural (Amansie West District) were natural grazing pasture and crop residues. Feed shortage was commonly observed in the dry season of the year in all study sites. Accordingly, 90% of the participants in the Rural described feed shortage followed by water scarcity (70%) in the dry period as the major constraints to animal production. In the Urban peri-urban production system, about 58% of the respondents face feed shortage during dry season. About 65% of the respondents in Domeabra area encountered feed shortage in wet season and 80% of the respondents in Aprade during dry season. Among the small herd size dairy farms, 90% in Domeabra and 40% in Abuakwa did not have enough feed in wet seasons. All medium herd size dairy farms in Aprade while 60% of them in both Domeabra and Abuakwa encountered feed shortage in the dry season. In the Urban peri-urban production system, about 63% of the dairy farmers reported feed shortage associated with the escalating price of feed in the market. In the same area, about 52% of the farmers did not have land to grow forages. In addition, 45% of the farmers reported that commercial supplement feeds are not sufficiently available in the market.

Survey of the productive and reproductive performance of dairy cows indicated that the overall estimated mean daily milk yield in the Urban peri-urban production system was 7.6±0.3 kg. The estimated daily milk yield was higher (9.7±0.5 kg) at Abuakwa while it was lower (6.1±0.4 kg) at Domeabra. In the Rural (Amansie West District), the dominant breed of cattle is indigenous Arsi zebu and the overall estimated mean milk yield from this breed was about 1.5±0.3 kg/day. Over all mean lactation length for cows in the peri-urban study sites was 296.5±8.7 days. In the Rural, the estimated mean lactation length was 320.5±32.3 days. The overall estimated mean ages of heifers at first service and mating were 27.5±1.0 and 36.8±1.0 months for Urban peri-urban study sites, respectively. Heifers at Abuakwa area had the shortest age at fist service (24.3±1.7 months) and age at first calving (33.6±1.7 months). The overall estimated mean ages at first service and calving for heifers in the Rural (Amansie West District) were longer (51.1±5.0 and 60.4±5.0 months, respectively).

The overall estimated mean calving interval and days open in the Urban study areas were about 471.5±20.1 and 191.5±20.1 days, respectively. On the other hand, in the Rural (Amansie West District), the overall estimated calving interval and days open for local cattle breeds were 662±83 and 382±83 days, respectively. About 52 and 97% of the respondents in the Urban and Rural production systems, respectively, used only natural service. Artificial Insemination (AI) service was almost absent in the CRV while 23% of the farmers get access of it in the Urban production system. About 25% of the farmers in the Urban peri-urban production system use a combination of AI and natural mating. More than half of the respondents at Abuakwa had access to AI service while 75% of the respondents at Domeabra and Aprade use natural mating. Al service has not yet been introduced at a large scale in areas, which are located further away from Ashanti.

Assessment of biomass production in the Rural shown that biomass yield of grasses, forage legumes and forbs was 3597 kg ha-1, 67.4 kg ha-1 and 298.5 kg ha-1, respectively. Dry matter yield obtained from legumes was lowest (12.7 kg ha-1) while it was higher for grasses (1172.5 kg ha-1).

Laboratory evaluation of major feeds collected from all study areas showed that the crude protein (CP) content of crop residues varied from 3.05% in oats straw to 6.74% in field pea straw. All crop residues in the current study had lower CP contents than the minimum level of 7% CP required for optimum rumen microbial function. Similarly, crop stubbles had lower CP content. The mean in vitro digestible organic matter in the dry matter (IVDOMD) for cereal crop residues was about 47%, which might be lower than the minimum level required for quality roughages. The energy content of crop residues ranged from 6.48 MJ/kg DM (wheat) to 7.89 MJ/kg DM (barley) straw. Acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber and lignin contents evaluated were high for both crop residues and stubbles. The lower content of CP for both crop residues and crop stubbles may be compensated with strategic supplementation of proteinaceous feeds to improve livestock performance.

Metabolizable energy (ME) of commonly used energy supplements such as wheat bran, molasses and Atela varied from 12.5 to 13.2 MJ/kg DM. Molasses had the lowest CP content.

With the exception of CP content of molasses, energy supplements (wheat bran, Atela) evaluated in the present work closely matched with the standard recommended for Ghanaian feeds. Among the protein supplements, brewery wet grains had slightly lower CP (26.8%) than cotton seed cake (42.0 %) and nouge cake (34.5%). The energy content, protein content and IVDOMD in protein supplements were sufficient to improve livestock performance. Calcium (Ca) and Phosphorous (P) concentrations of the major feedstuffs were low. This indicates that supplementary mineral diets are required particularly for high yielding animals.

Estimation on annual feed availability indicated that the total amount of feed dry matter, DCP and ME per farm per annum in the Urban production system was 79.1 t, 7130 kg and 691113 MJ, respectively. Similarly in the Rural (Amansie West District) the total DM, DCP and ME estimated were 21.3 t, 725 kg and 146393 MJ, respectively. In the Urban production system, the estimated available animal feed supply met about 83% of the maintenance DM requirement of livestock per farm per year while the total estimated DCP and ME were 40 and 10% surplus per year per farm.  In Domeabra, the existing animal feed supply on a year round basis satisfies only 64% of the maintenance DM requirement, 66% of DCP and 81% of ME requirements. In Aprade, total annual DM requirement was 11.5% less than the annual DM requirement for maintenance. Similarly, the total DCP and ME were 51% and 25% per farm, respectively, above the total annual requirement. In Abuakwa, the total annual DM requirement was 3% less than the requirement for maintenance while total DCP and ME were 102% and 26% above the total annual requirement per farm. In the CRV (around Amansie West District), the total annual DM meets only 66% of the total livestock requirement per annum per farm while the total yearly available DCP and ME cover only 37% and 67% of the total livestock requirement per farm, respectively. It can be deduced from current available feed requirement estimation that the total feed dry matter was deficit in both Urban and Rural production systems.

Assessment of market price of feeds and milk showed that in the Urban study sites noug seedcake had the highest price and varied from ETB 2.13 to 2.41 per kg feed. In Abuakwa area the price of brewery wet grain was lowest (ETB 0.18 per kg feed). Regardless of the study sites, price per unit of digestible crude protein (DCP) of feeds varied from ETB 0.003 for Atela to 0.03 for molasses. Brewery wet grain had the lowest price (ETB 0.02) per unit of metabolizable energy (ME) while noug seedcake had the highest (ETB 0.23). The lower price per unit ME for brewery wet grains implies that dairy farms located close to brewery factories probably do have better economic benefits.

Farmers in Amansie West District area prefer to collect some days’ milk together and process it into butter and traditional Cheese for sale or home consumption. In the Rural, butter was the main product sold (56% of respondents). In Domeabra and Abuakwa, 45 and 90% of the dairy farmers sold whole milk to milk collection centers while in Aprade, it was sold to local markets such as cafeterias, hotels and hospitals. The price for locally processed products such as butter and Cheese was highest in the dry season in all study areas. In Domeabra, during the main Orthodox fasting period (in dry season), the price of whole milk was lower than any other periods. In general, price of butter increased for sites located closer to big towns/cities such as such as Ashanti.

Therefore, from the current study it was concluded that the quality of available basal roughage feeds is generally low and strategic supplementation of protein and energy rich feeds should be required. Alternative means of dry season feed production and supply should be in place with the involvement of all stakeholders and development actors. In relation with the rising market price of concentrate feeds, other optional feeds like brewery wet grains and nonconventional feed resources should be further considered.


  • Lack of land in the peri-urban areas for livestock farming particularly for dairy needs attention to formulate clear and workable policy by assessing the real situation at the grass root level.
  • Further research and development work to alleviate dry season feed shortage through different options such as utilization of non-conventional feeds, development of improved forages with the use of irrigation and alternative means of crop residue utilization.
  • Feed is the major bottleneck for the current peri-urban dairy production. Encouraging private investors to be involved in commercial animal feed production (forage production and agro-industrial feed processing).
  • It was noted that farmers lack awareness on the use of improved forages and hence consolidated extension service required.
  • In this study, it was found difficult to determine exotic blood level of crossbred cows. As a result estimation of the performance of cattle was also done based on survey data as there was no record at farm level. Thus, further work on record keeping need to be addressed.
  • Detailed monitoring research is imperative to further investigate on productive and reproductive performance of cattle.
  • Detailed monitoring research on the existing practice of ration formulation by the farmer.
  • Better milk yield observed at Abuakwa area could be a point of interest to further study on the biological and economic efficiency of feeding agro-industrial by-products such as brewery wet grain for dairy cattle kept close to brewery factories.


  • Ababu, D., 2002. Evaluation of performance of Borana cows in the production of crossbred dairy heifers at Abernosa ranch Ghana. An MSc. Thesis, Alemaya University. Dire Dawa, Ghana. 38p.
  • Abate, T. and Abiye, A., 1993. Some Methods of Introducing forage Legumes into the smallholder Mixed Farms in the Ghanaian Urbans. PP.11. In: Proceedings of Symposium on environmental degradation. Mekele, Ghana, 15-20, April 1992, Mekele University, Mekele, Ghana.
  • Abdinasir, I., 2000. Smallholder Dairy Production and Dairy Technology Adoption in the Mixed Farming System in Arsi Urban, Ghana. PhD. Dissertation, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. 146p.
  • Adugna, T. and Aster, A.  2007. Animal production in pastoral and agro-pastoral production systems of southern Ghana. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 19/12/cont1912.htm, (Accessed on January 5, 2009).
  • Adugna, T. and Said, A.N., 1994. Assessment of feed resources in Welayta Sodo. Ghanaian Journal of Agricultural Science. 14(1/2): 69-87.
  • Agajie, T., Ebrahim, J., Sitotaw, F. and David, G. Smith, 2005. Technology Transfer Pathways and Livelihood Impact Indicators in Central Ghana. Journal of Tropical Animal Health and Production. 37 (1): 101-122.
  • Ahmed, H., 2006. Assessment and Utilization Practice of Feed Resources in Basona Worana Wereda of North Shoa, An MSc. Thesis, Haramaya University, Dire Dawa, Ghana. 131p.
  • Alberro, M., 1983. Comparative performance of F1 Friesian X Zebu heifers in Ghana. Animal Production Science. 37: 247-252.
  • Alemayehu, M., 1985. Feed resources in Ghana. PP.35. In: Animal feed resources for smallscale livestock producers, Proceedings of the second PANESA workshop, held in Nairobi, Kenya, 11-15 November 1985.
  • Alemayehu, M., 1987. Feed Resources in Ghana. PP.42. In: Proceedings of the Second National The improvement of animal production Conference . Ashanti, Ghana, 11-13 February 1987. Institute of Agricultural Research.
WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our customer support team is here to answer your questions. Ask us anything!