Q&A Farm Animals

What are the important management practices to ensure regular breeding (reproduction) and production of healthy offspring of farm animals.

  • Feeding – an underfed animal is prone to infertility.  Animals should be in good condition at mating and will need additional feeding in the later stages of pregnancy. 
  • Overfeeding can also affect breeding.  Fat under the skin indicates fat around the ovaries and this may prevent the eggs ripening properly
  • Disease control and prevention –  organisms within the uterus can prevent the embryo attaching correctly to the uterus wall or resulting in detachment in late stage pregnancy.
  • Pregnant females should be kept in good condition.  In the last two months of pregnancy, she needs extra feed and if milking, be dried off three months before the next calf is due.
  • Bulls should be exercised daily and as his workload increases, extra concentrated feed should be given.
  • Artificial Insemination allows a better selection of bulls than a farmer would be able to afford to keep.
  • Allow newborn cows to suckle colostrum which contains nutrients and builds immunity to local disease.
  • Wean the offspring to allow the mother to regain strength before the next parturition.

 What is ME of a food?

  • ME is the abbreviation of Metabolisable Energy. When an animal eats, not all the total value of the food energy is available for the animal to metabolize.  Some is lost as urine, gas and faeces in the digestive process.  The remaining energy is known as metabolisable energy.

 What is the dry matter of food?  Give three examples

         Dry matter (DM) is the part of the food that contains the nutrition.

Foods high in dry matter include:

  • Hay 85%
  • Bran 90%
  • Groundnut cake 90%

Dry matter comprises 6 important groups:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Oils & fats
  • Fibre
  • Proteins
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

List some uses of farm animals

As sources of power – for pulling carts, ploughs, water from wells etc

As a source of plant nutrition – for their manure either directly or in compost

As a source of fuel – dried manure can be used as fuel or in a biodigester

As a source of food for man

What is the gestation period of
            a. Cattle – 284 days

            b. Pig – 112-116 days

What are the differences between ruminants and non-ruminants?


Ruminants Non-ruminants
Can eat lots of fibrous foods such as grass and straw




No teeth in upper jaw, have a dental pad instead



Swallows food then regurgitates it later for a thorough chewing


Need concentrated feed that is highly digestible and low in fibre



Pigs possess canine and molar teeth so can tear as well as chew


Saliva contains enzymes to break the food down immediately for digestion


Devise a suitable breeding record for an animal


No. Name: 


Purchased from:


Date of Birth:
Date of purchase:


Date of disposal:  Value






What is the breeding age of cattle?

 18 months to 5 – 8 years of age depending on milk yield

 What is meant by the phrase “Calving Interval”?

 The aim with cattle is to produce 1 calf per year giving a calving interval of 365 days. 

For other articles on animal health, click here.

 Written by Fiona Johnson

June 2012