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SITEMAP Part 4f. Methods of increasing food production and improving sustainability

4f. Methods of managing livestock

Doc Brown's Biology exam study revision notes

There are various sections to work through,

after 1 they can be read and studied in any order.

Sub-index of notes on how to increase food production

Sub-index of notes on ALL aspects of food security

4(f) Livestock management

The advantages and disadvantages of various strategies.

Use of hormones dealt with in Part 4c.

(i) You can limit the of farm animals and keep them in a temperature controlled environment to reduce their movement and reducing the transfer of energy from livestock to the environment.

This increases efficiency because the animals use less energy moving around and controlling their body temperature and so more energy is released in growth for the same feed input.

This seems to me to be a form of factory farming and not a good environment to live in.

(ii) Calves and chickens can be factory farmed by raising them in small confined indoor pens - but many people find this style of farming unacceptable.

The animals like 'battery hens or chickens' (for eggs or meat) are cramped allowing the rapid spread of any disease - requiring animals reared in this way to be treated with antibiotics - again these become part of our food chain.

The animals must be fed with protein based feed, reducing the efficiency of this form of protein production.

People have every right to question the ethics of factory farming and point out the cruel unnatural and uncomfortable conditions under which these animals are made to live.

Summary of learning objectives and key words or phrases

  • Know and understand that the efficiency of food production can also be improved by restricting energy loss from food animals by limiting their movement and by controlling the temperature of their surroundings.

    • Intensive farming, where animals are constrained in large 'sheds' with limited movement and kept in a warmer environment, does improve efficiency of meat production making it cheaper for the farmer to produce food by reducing production costs.

    • This makes cheaper food for us via our local shops and supermarkets and supermarkets have a powerful influence on the cost of food but are increasingly being pressured to source from farmers who adhere to strict standards of animal husbandry - but this is not the case in all countries.

    • Less energy is wasted as body heat and animals grow fatter on less food, and animal feed is becoming increasingly costly, but, at what cost to the quality of existence of these factory farmed animals?

    • There are also disadvantages to intensive farming eg the over-crowded conditions are ideal for the spread of disease eg avian flu in chickens, foot-and-mouth-disease in cows. To combat these diseases by treating the animals with antibiotics increases production costs and introduces these same antibiotics into the food chain, so potentially weakening our own immune system if we become infected.

    • But, these 'factory farming' methods means the lives of the quality of life of these animals is much reduced compared to living out in open fields with plenty of space to move about freely, fresh air and sunlight, hence consumer demand for organic meat from animals not intensively farmed.

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