Namibia: Understanding livestock-environment interaction – Advice Eating

The goals of LIVESTOCK farms are aimed at increasing and maintaining production, which in turn puts pressure on the physiological performance of the animals.

These aspects of performance include, but are not limited to, reproduction, health, feed efficiency and general adaptability.

The productivity of a livestock farm depends on three factors – the environment, the animal and the management system used. If these factors are separated at any point, the animal’s production potential can be noticeably affected to some extent.

Additionally, the role of each of these factors in determining productivity is influenced by various attributes highlighted below.

THE ANIMAL

The performance of the animal is primarily influenced by its genetic makeup or overall breed type.

There are different livestock breeds with different structural and physiological capabilities, which in turn affect their performance in a given environment.

The various animal breeds differ in their adaptability to the environment, feed conversion and disease resistance, among other things.

In addition, personal preferences and management skills also influence the breed of choice. However, the main driver of performance is the interaction between genetics and environment. For example, sheep breeds such as Damara and Dorper carry different genetic traits related to adaptability or weight gain, which can be used as a measure of performance given production goals and the environment.

THE ENVIRONMENT

The production environment has a significant impact on animal performance. This is primarily attributed to climatic conditions such as temperature and precipitation, the landscape or topographical features such as mountains and plains, and last but not least to the availability or quality of resources such as forage and water.

The animal’s performance and survival depend on its ability to withstand or adapt to changes in environmental conditions. However, animals that are native to the environment perform well compared to the non-native animals.

In addition, the adaptability is present both on a spatial and on a temporal level. As a result of genetic environmental interaction, an animal can adapt or adapt to a new environment when exposed to it over time as its genetics are influenced to express adaptive traits.

It is also common for the production potential of non-native animals to be compromised or, in extreme cases, to succumb to harsh environmental conditions.

MANAGEMENT

A livestock management plan should be based on production goals and set targets. In order to achieve this, specific activities must therefore be carried out.

The management system should aim to harmonize the interaction of the animal’s genetics with its environment to ensure that production goals and targets are met.

This includes practices such as health maintenance, food and water provision, and general animal welfare (animal shelter) to ensure the animal is functioning at its best.

Farming goals are also influenced by the market, which also leads to the introduction of animal breeds that meet specific market requirements, which in turn puts pressure on the animal and the environment.