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Livestock farming

A rotary milking parlour at a modern dairy farm. Cows producing milk (lactating cows) visit the milking parlour at least twice a...Read More >>A rotary milking parlour at a modern dairy farm. Cows producing milk (lactating cows) visit the milking parlour at least twice a day to be milked. Milk is extracted from the cow's udder by flexible rubber sheaths, which squeezing the milk out of the teats. The milk is pumped into a refrigerated bulk tank. It normally takes a cow about five minutes to give her milk. At about the same time as people began to grow crops, around 10,000 years ago, they also domesticated wild animals so that they could be used for their meat, eggs, milk and skins or wool. This was the start of livestock farming. The main animals raised as livestock are cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. However, many other animals, from emus to snakes, are kept around the world. Other important products obtained from livestock include lanolin from sheep's wool, which is used in cosmetics; and dung for fuel and fertilizer. 



Cattle grazing in North Island, New Zealand
A farmer uses a pair of zebu cattle to work his land in Madagascar.

Cattle

Cattle are kept for their milk, meat and skins (for leather) and, in some parts of the world, as work animals, where they are known as oxen or bullocks. There are about 200 million cattle in India alone, with about 1100 million in the rest of the world. There are two main groups of cattle: the European breeds, descended from an extinct, long-horned wild bovine called the auroch, and the various breeds of zebu of India.

For around 7000 years, guinea pigs have been kept for their meat in the Andes of South America. In Peru alone, around 65 million guinea pigs are eaten each year.

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