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Cattle are raised in different countries of the world. After all, cows are a source of milk and meat. The animals feed mainly on grass and hay. The costs of their breeding and cultivation are minimal (in case of pasture-stall keeping). But the profitability of cattle breeding is high. The main thing is to provide cattle with proper care and quality feed.
What it is?
When people say "cattle" they mean domesticated mammals of the Bovine subfamily, usually cows and bulls. Wild representatives are bison, buffalo, bison. Animals belong to the Bovids family. Cattle have a large, dense build. Body length - 1.3-2 meters, height at the withers - 1.2-1.5 meters, weight - 350-1000 kilograms. Females and males have horns that grow throughout their lives and are never shed. There are breeds with hereditary hornlessness (hornlessness).
Cattle are ruminants with a 4-chamber stomach. They feed on grass in summer and hay in winter. They have 32 teeth in their mouths, with no upper incisors and canines. Grazing in the meadow, animals grab the grass, tear it off or bite it. After that, the food is slightly chewed, then swallowed, regurgitated and chewed several more times. This is done to break down and microbially digest plant foods.
Animals are bred for the sake of milk, meat, skins. There are dairy, meat, milk and meat breeds. One cow gives about 15-20 liters of milk per day. The period of productive use is 10-15 years. Slaughter meat yield - 50 percent. At the age of 15-18 months, females are ready to mate. Their pregnancy lasts 277-285 days. This is 9 months. Usually the female gives birth to one, less often two or three calves. The weight of a newborn cow calf is 20-30 kg. Up to 3-4 months, calves feed on mother's milk, and from 1 month of age they begin to nibble on grass.
History of domestication
The wild ancestors of cattle are the tours that were found in Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Unlike today's cows and bulls, they had a larger body and massive horns.
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
In the beginning, the ancestors of modern humans simply hunted wild animals. Tours were domesticated about 8.5 thousand years ago.
The first domestic animals were used for meat and as draft labor. Such cattle had long horns. Relatively small short-legged animals originate from Celtic and Iberian cattle. Humpback cattle have appeared in Asian and African countries. The hump in such animals has developed to adapt to the hot climate.
Domesticated animals were kept and bred in captivity. Over time, people have learned to get milk from cows over a long period. Then natural selection began: more productive individuals were selected, new breeds were created. This is how livestock raising and the opportunity to receive meat and milk at any time of the year appeared.
Most of the domesticated animals were piebald, white or black in color. In domestic cattle, body proportions have changed over time. Those parts that were of great value developed more strongly. This is how the modern cow appeared with a long body, a huge stomach, a short neck, a small head, small horns and a large, rounded udder.
Why cattle are bred
Cows and bulls are bred for milk, meat and skins. There is no country where these animals are not known and appreciated. Livestock is the main branch of agriculture. Thanks to the breeding of cattle, farms make profit all year round, uninterruptedly providing the population with basic food products (milk, cheese, sour cream, beef).
The number of such animals in the world today is about 1.3-1.4 billion heads.
There are such classifications of cattle: craniological, economic, geographical, as well as by age and sex.
According to the shape and parameters of the skull, the following types of cattle are distinguished:
- narrow-minded (descended from the Asian tur) - Yaroslavl, Dutch, red steppe;
- broad-browed (descended from the Asian tur with developed frontal bones) - Simmental;
- short-legged (from the European round, having straight and short horns) - Kostroma, Jersey;
- short-headed (from the European tur, with a shortened facial part of the skull) - Hereford, Tyrolean;
- straight-horned (from the African tur, with a narrow head, short forehead, horns growing up and bent in the form of a crescent) - Kalmyk, Mongolian;
- hornless (the main characteristic is the absence of horns) - hornless northern European breeds.
By age and gender
Classification by sex and age:
- oxen - males over 3 years old castrated in infancy;
- cows - females with calves;
- bulls - uncastrated males over 3 years old;
- gobies - young males over 3 months old (but under 3 years old);
- dairy calves - young animals from 14 days to 3 months, fed with milk;
- castrated bulls - castrated males from 3 months to 3 years old;
- heifers are young females that have not yet calved.
Cows are bred in different countries and in different natural and climatic zones. Cattle are grown even in those regions where there are no pastures suitable for grazing. Animals can be kept in stalls all year round. The largest number of cows and bulls in India (about 270 million heads), slightly less in Brazil (153 million) and the United States (100 million). In Russia this figure is equal to 45 million heads, in Ukraine - 3.5 million heads.
By geographic type, cattle are:
- low-lying (all dairy breeds);
- mountain (Swiss, Tyrolean);
- steppe (red, Ukrainian steppe).
Dairy and meat and dairy farming is developing in the forest and forest-steppe areas of the temperate zone. Animals in these zones are kept on a pasture-stall type. Meat breeds are mainly bred in the arid regions of the temperate and subtropical belt.
Hornless animals live in Northern Europe. Humpbacked cattle dominate the tropics and subtropics.
Cattle is divided into the following main breeds:
- Meat. There are British (Hereford, Shorthorn), French (Salerian, Limousine), Italian (Marcadian, Kian), Asian (Kalmyk, Kazakh, gray Ukrainian) and hybrid origin (Santa Gertrude, Brangus).
- Dairy. The most popular breeds are Yaroslavl, Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey.
- Combined (meat and dairy). Popular types are Alatau, Kostroma, Bestuzhev, Simmental.
Cattle can be on pasture, pasture-stall and stall keeping. The animals are raised by farms and people living in rural areas. The main thing when breeding cattle is to provide cattle with fodder all year round and to create acceptable conditions for them.
The cows feed mainly on grass and hay. In summer, animals are recommended to graze in pasture. Desirable grasses are legume-cereal type, 15 cm high. One cow eats about 55 kilograms of vegetation per day. Drinks almost 30-40 liters of water. For the winter, one animal needs to prepare about 0.5 tons of hay.
During the cold season, cattle must be kept indoors. Cowsheds are equipped with nurseries, feeders, drinkers, and maintain a temperature of at least 15 degrees Celsius. Cows are milked 2-3 times a day. One female gives about 15-20 liters of milk per day.
Usually, farmers grow those cattle breeds that are most adapted to the climate of a particular region and have lived in a particular area since time immemorial. Such animals are not susceptible to colds.
The health of cattle depends on the conditions of keeping and the quality of feed. Inaccuracies in care and feeding can lead to mastitis and digestive problems. Animals are protected from infectious diseases at an early age by vaccination. Cattle are vaccinated against anthrax, foot and mouth disease, rabies, pneumonia of viral origin.