Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping

Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping

Animal husbandry is the care and management of livestock (farm animals)

Examples of farm animals include; goats, rabbits, pigs, sheep, cattle, poultry.

1. Animal Husbandry (cattle keeping)

This is the rearing of cows, bulls, oxen, heifers and bullocks.

Why farmers rear cattle 

  • For meat and milk production 
  • To get income 
  • For provision of labour
  • For payment of dowry and bride price

Importance of keeping cattle

  • They provide us with meat and milk 
  • They are a source of employment to farmers
  • Bulls and oxen are used for ploughing and transport
  • Cow dung is a source of manure
  • Hides from cattle are used to make leather
  • Bones, horns and hooves are used to make glue and animal feeds.
  • Cattle are used to pay dowry or bride price.

External parts of a cow

Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping

Types of cattle 

A type of cattle means a class of cattle kept for a specific purpose.

The major types of cattle kept in Uganda include;

  • Beef Cattle
  • Dairy Cattle 
  • Dual purpose Cattle

Types of breeds of cattle

A breed is a family of cattle having specific characteristics.  The  type of breed of cattle are determined by; colour, size, milk yield, body conformation like shape etc.

There are three types of breeds of cattle , namely;

  • Local breeds/indigenous breeds
  • Exotic breeds
  • Cross breeds

Local or indigenous breeds

These are breeds that have existed in East Africa for long. They are also called Native Breeds. Examples 

  • Ankole cow
  • Boran
  • Zebu

Advantages of local breeds of cattle

They are resistant to some diseases.

They can survive on poor pasture and little water

They require less care and management

They produce high quality meat and milk 

Disadvantages of local breeds of cattle

They mature slowly

They produce less products (i.e. Milk and meat)

Advantages of exotic breeds of cattle 

They grow and mature faster 

They produce more meat and milk

Disadvantages of exotic breeds of cattle 

They are easily attacked by diseases 

They need good pasture and water all the time.

They need a lot of care and attention.

Types of cattle 

There are three types of cattle namely;

  • Beef cattle 
  • Dairy cattle
  • Dual purpose cattle 
  • Work type (draught cattle)

Beef cattle 

These are cattle mainly kept for beef (meat) production.

Characteristics of beef cattle

  • They grow fast 
  • They have a block (rectangular) shape
  • They have small heads 
  • They have short legs with long broad backs.

Examples of beef cattle 

  • Short horn
  • Galloway 
  • Hereford
  • Aberdeen angus
  • American Braham
  • Charolais
  • Santa Gertrudis

These are cattle kept mainly for milk production 

Characteristics of dairy cattle

  • They are triangular in shape 
  • They produce a lot of milk 
  • They have well set legs to support their weight.
  • They have plenty of space between their hind legs.
  • They are usually docile (calm)
  • They have small necks and wide hind quarters.

Examples of dairy cattle

  a) Frisian                   b) Brown Swiss

  c) Guernsey                 d) Ayrshire

Dual purpose cattle 

These are cattle kept for both meat and milk production.


1.Red Poll                               2. Milking Short horn

3. Sahiwal

Work (draught) cattle

These are cattle mainly kept for providing labour on a farm (ploughing, transport).

They are used to plough soil, pull carts, etc.

Differences between local and exotic breeds of cattle

Local Breeds Exotic Breeds
They have different coloursThey have specific colours.
They mature slowly.They mature quickly.
They produce less meat and milk.They produce more meat and milk.
They need less care.They need a lot of care.
They are more resistant to diseases.The are less resistant to diseases.
They can survive on poor pasture and water.They need good pasture and water all the time.

Breeding of cattle 

Breeding is the keeping (maintaining) of inherited characteristics in cattle. Such characteristics include; colour, growth, disease resistance, milking, longevity, (ability to love long).

Types of breeding 

                1.In Breeding                                      2. Line breeding 

                3. Out Breeding                                  4. Cross breeding 

                5. Up grading                                      6. Selective breeding 

In Breeding 

This is the mating of very closely related animals (such as brothers and sisters).

Advantages of in breeding 

It makes good characteristics in the family of animals strong.


It leads to production of poor quality.

It can lead to inheritance of bad traits.

Line Breeding 

This is the mating of closely related animals (such as cousins). Line breeding can lead to inheritance of bad traits.

Out Breeding 

This is the mating of distantly related animals.

Out breeding  brings good qualities that may be disappearing in a breed.

Cross Breeding 

This is the mating of unrelated animals of different pure breeds. (e.g. Mating exotic breeds with local breeds).

The off springs after cross breeding are called cross breeds.

Cross breeds have better performance than their parents or relatives.

Up Grading 

This is the improvement of quality of one breed by using a breed of superior quality several times.

Selective Breeding 

This is the mating of selected good breeds in a herd.

Bad or poor breeds in a herd are sold off for slaughter.

Types of service/insemination 

There are two types of insemination;

  1. Natural Insemination 
  2. Artificial Insemination

Nature Insemination 

This is the depositing of sperms into the female reproductive system by a male animal.

Types of natural insemination

  1. Hand mating 
  2. Pasture mating  Hand mating 

This means bringing a bull to mate with a cow on heat.

Pasture Mating 

This means allowing a bull to move with cows so that it mates easily with those on heat.

Advantages of natural insemination 

  • A farmer does not bother to look for an expert inseminator.
  • It is cheap for a farmer since semen is not bought.
  • The bull notices the cows on heat easily.
  • Animals on heat enjoy the feeling of sex.

Disadvantages of natural insemination • Controlling veneral diseases is difficult.

  • Small cows can be injured by big bulls.
  • Transporting a bull if non is around is expensive.
  • Inbreeding is easily practiced.

Reproduction in cattle 

Reproduction is the ability to produce off springs and increase in number. There must be a male and a female to mate and produce young ones.


Mating is the sexual union of the male and female animals.

During mating, serving (insemination) takes place.

A heifer is ready for mating at the age of 18 months.

When a cow or heifer is ready for mating, it shows signs of heat.

Heat period  or oestrus period

This is the time when a female animal is ready to mate with a male animal.

Oestrus cycle

This is a period when a female animal can conceive if it mates.

Signs of heat 

  • The cow mounts other cows.
  • The cow allows other cows to mount it.
  • The cow loses appetite to graze.
  • Mucus discharge from the vulva.
  • Slight rise in the body temperature of a cow.
  • The vulva swells and changes from pink to red.
  • The cow urinates frequently.
  • The cow becomes restless and moos all the time.
  • Milk production in lactating cow drops.
  • Three weeks after the period of service, if the cow shows no more signs of heat, we say it has conceived.

Artificial insemination 

This means depositing sperms into the female reproductive system of a cow using s syringe or an inseminating gun.

Advantages of artificial insemination  • It controls veneral diseases.

  • It is cheaper to buy sperms than buying a bull.
  • It prevents injury to small cows.
  • Semen from a good dead bull can be used to improve breeds.
  • In breeding is controlled.
  • Wastages of semen is minimized

Disadvantages of artificial insemination 

It requires an expert to carry it out.Storing semen is difficult.

It may not give good results.

A farmer may not easily notice the cow on heat.

The reproductive system of a cow.


Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping

Uses of each part 


It receives and guides the penis to the vagina.

It protects and covers the vagina.


It receives sperms and passes them to the uterus.

It is a birth canal.


It protects the foetus during pregnancy by closing the cervix.


It produces mature ova (eggs)

It produces hormones which controls the sexual cycle.


These are female reproductive cells. They fuse with sperms to form a zygote. 


It is where implantation takes place.

It provides a suitable environment for implantation to take place.

Oviduct (fallopian tube)

It is where fertilization takes place.

It passes a fertilized egg to the uterus.

The reproductive system of a bull 

Uses of each part 

  • Testes 
  • They produce sperms.
  • They produce a hormone responsible for puberty and sexual desire. This hormone is called testosterone.


It passes urine to the penis  It passes sperms to the penis.

Sperm ducts 

They carry sperms to the urethra.


It deposits sperms to the vagina


They help to manufacture sperms


It stores sperms.

Prostate glands and seminal vesicles

They produce semen through which sperms swim.


This is the outer covering of the testicles.

It protects the testicles.

It regulates the temperature of the testicles.

Fertilization in a cow 

Fertilization is the union of male and female gametes to form a zygote. A gamete is a reproductive cell.

The female gamete is called Ovum The male gamete is called a Sperm.

Diagram of a sperm and an Ovum


Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping


Animal Husbandry and cattle keeping

After fertilization, the zygote develops into an embryo.

The embryo develops into a foetus and finally into a calf.


image 3

The embryo is attached to the uterus wall through the placenta.


This is the attachment of the foetus to the walls of the uterus.

Therefore, Implantation takes place in the uterus.

Gestation period 

This is the time between conception and giving birth.

The gestation period of an in-calf is 270-280 days or nine months.

An in-calf is a cow that is pregnant.

Signs of pregnancy 

A cow does not go on heat 21 days after service.

  • The uterus enlarges in the second and third month after conception.
  • The udder enlarges and fills with milk.
  • The cervix closes during pregnancy.
  • The movement of foetus can be seen or felt after 7 months.

Dry period 

This is the time when a lactating cow is left without milking it in preparation to giving birth.

A cow is dried six to seven weeks before calving.

During the dry period, the in-calf is fed on foods rich in protein.

Steaming up 

This is the feeding of an in-calf on foods rich in protein. It is normally done during the last two months.

Why steaming up/advantages of steaming up • It encourages the foetus to grow healthy.

  • It builds a cow’s body in preparation  for calving (parturition)
  • It increases the manufacture of colostrum.
  • It prevents low birth weight.
  • It prolongs milk let down.

Calving or parturition 

This is the act of giving birth in cattle (cows).

Signs of calving 

  • The vulva swells and becomes red.
  • The cow lies down most of the time.
  • The udder and teats become swollen.
  • The amnion (or water sac) comes out and it bursts.


This is the first yellowish milk got from a cow which has just given birth.

Uses of colostrum 

  • It has all food values.
  • It opens up the digestive system of a calf.
  • It boosts the immunity of a calf since it is rich in antibodies.
  • It improves a calf’s sight since it is rich in vitamin A.