Animal Husbandry - UPSC Notes - Indian Geography Notes

Animal Husbandry – UPSC Notes – Indian Geography

Animal Husbandry refers to livestock raising and selective breeding. It is the management and care of animals in which the genetic qualities and behavior of animals are further developed for profit.

India’s livestock sector is one of the largest in the world. About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood. Livestock contributed 16% to the income of small farm households as against an average of 14% for all rural households. Livestock provides livelihood to two-thirds of the rural community. It also provides employment to about 8.8% of the population in India. India has vast livestock resources. The livestock sector contributes 4.11% GDP and 25.6% of the total Agriculture GDP.

The Economic Survey 2020 noted that the livestock sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 7.9% during the last five years. As per the Economic Survey-2021, the contribution of Livestock in the total agriculture and allied sector Gross Value Added (at Constant Prices) has increased from 24.32% (2014-15) to 28.63% (2018-19). Livestock income has become an important secondary source of income for rural families and has assumed an important role in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Trends in livestock sector in India

  • Total Livestock population: 535.78 million (increase of 4.6% over Livestock Census-2012)
  • Total Bovine population (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun, and Yak): 79 million in 2019 (increase of about 1% over the previous census)
  • Decline of 6% in the total Indigenous/Non-descript cattle population over the previous census
  • Population of cows increased by 18% in the last seven years, while that of oxen dipped by 30%
  • Spectacular 16.8% increase in the poultry population to 851.81 million, mainly due to a 46% rise in backyard poultry birds
  • Number of female cattle: 145.12 million (increase of 18% since 2012), while male cattle dropped to 47.4 million
  • Cattle accounted for 35.94% of total livestock, goats: 27.80%, buffaloes: 20.45%, sheep: 13.87%, and pigs: 1.69%
  • Small Ruminant Sector: Sheep and goat collectively known as small ruminants
  • India supports 16.1% of the world’s goat population and 6.4% of its sheep (FAO)
  • 20th Livestock Census: India is the world’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million
  • First in the total buffalo population in the world: 109.85 million buffaloes
  • Second in the population of goats: 148.88 million goats
  • Second largest poultry market in the world
  • Second largest producer of fish and also second largest aquaculture nation in the world
  • Third in the population of sheep: 74.26 million
  • Fifth in the population of ducks and chicken: 851.81 million
  • Tenth in camel population in the world: 2.5 lakhs
20th Livestock Census

Role of livestock in socio-economic life of India

  • Livestock Role in Economy:
    • Farmers in India practice mixed farming combining crop and livestock for resource efficiency.
    • Livestock provide subsidiary income, especially for resource-poor families.
    • Cows and buffaloes yield regular income through milk sales.
    • Animals like sheep and goats serve as emergency income for various needs.
    • Livestock act as economic assets and moving banks providing security.
  • Employment:
    • Many in India, particularly those with limited education, rely on agriculture for livelihood.
    • Livestock offer employment during lean agricultural seasons.
    • Particularly important for landless and those with limited land.
  • Food:
    • Livestock products (milk, meat, eggs) provide vital animal protein.
    • Per capita availability: 355g milk/day, 69 eggs/year.
  • Social Security:
    • Livestock ownership enhances social status.
    • Animals provide social security during emergencies.
    • Gifting animals during marriages is common.
    • Animals are integral to socio-religious functions.
  • Gender Equity:
    • Livestock sector promotes gender equity.
    • Women contribute over three-fourths of labor in livestock production.
    • Particularly significant in regions like Punjab and Haryana where dairying is prevalent.
  • Draft:
    • Bullocks remain essential in Indian agriculture despite technological advancements.
    • Save on fuel compared to mechanical power.
    • Other pack animals like camels, horses, and donkeys serve in transportation roles, especially in hilly terrains and high-altitude areas.
  • Dung:
    • Dung is utilized as fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farmyard manure), and plastering material in rural areas.

Contributions of Livestock Sector to Indian Economy

  • Employment:
    • According to NSSO’s 68th Round Survey on Employment and Unemployment, 16.44 million workers were engaged in farming of animals, mixed farming, fishing, and aquaculture.
  • Largest Milk Producer:
    • India holds the title of the largest producer of milk globally.
    • Milk production reached 188 million tonnes in 2018-19 with a yearly growth rate of 6.5%, leading to increased per capita availability to 394 grams per day.
  • Income:
    • About 20.5 million people depend on livestock for their livelihood, contributing 16% to the income of small farm households.
    • Livestock provides livelihood to two-thirds of the rural community.
    • Livestock rearing is a principal source of income for 3.7% of agricultural households.
    • Livestock sector contributes 11% GDP and 25.6% of total Agriculture GDP.
  • Food:
    • Livestock products such as milk, meat, and eggs are vital sources of animal protein.
    • Per capita availability: 375g milk/day, 74 eggs/year during 2017-18.
  • Social Security:
    • Livestock ownership enhances social status and offers social security.
    • Landless families owning animals are better placed in society.
  • Fisheries Sector:
    • Provides livelihood to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level.
    • Contributes 58% of GDP from agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
    • Major contributor to foreign exchange earnings with India being a leading seafood exporter.
    • Total fish production: 13.42 million metric tonnes (MMT) during 2018-19 (Marine fisheries: 3.71 MMT, Inland fisheries: 9.71 MMT).

Challenges faced by the Livestock sector in India

  • Productivity:
    • Improving farm animal productivity is a major challenge.
    • Average annual milk yield of Indian cattle (1172 kg) is only 50% of the global average.
  • Diseases:
    • Frequent outbreaks of diseases like Foot and Mouth Diseases, Black Quarter infection, Influenza, etc., affect livestock health and reduce productivity.
  • Greenhouse Gases:
    • India’s large ruminant population contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Reducing emissions through mitigation and adaptation strategies is a significant challenge.
  • Loss of Indigenous Breeds:
    • Crossbreeding indigenous species with exotic stocks has had limited success in enhancing genetic potential.
  • Limited Artificial Insemination Services:
    • Deficiency in quality germplasm, infrastructure, and technical manpower limits artificial insemination.
    • Poor conception rate post-artificial insemination is a major impediment.
  • Limited Credit:
    • Sector receives only 12% of total public expenditure on agriculture despite its disproportionate contribution to agricultural GDP.
    • Neglected by financial institutions.
  • Meat Production and Market:
    • Inadequate slaughtering facilities.
    • About half of total meat production comes from unregistered, makeshift slaughterhouses.
    • High marketing and transaction costs take 15-20% of the sale price of livestock products.

Measures needed

With an increasing population, persistent rise in food inflation, unfortunate rise in farmer’s suicides, and the majority of the Indian population relying on agriculture as their primary occupation, the practice of animal husbandry is no longer a choice but a necessity in the contemporary scenario. Its successful, sustainable, and skilled implementation will significantly improve the socio-economic condition of the lower strata of our society. Linking animal husbandry with the food processing industry, agriculture, research, and patents has the potential to make India a nutritional powerhouse of the world. Animal husbandry represents the imperative hope, definite desire, and urgent panacea for India as well as the world.

Role of Animal Husbandry in Indian Economy

Animal husbandry encompasses the controlled cultivation, management, and production of domestic animals, involving the improvement of qualities desired by humans through breeding.

It is a branch of agriculture focused on animals raised for meat, fibre, milk, or other products, involving day-to-day care, selective breeding, and raising of livestock.

  • Significance in India:
    • Many farmers in India rely on animal husbandry for their livelihood.
    • It offers substantial self-employment opportunities, particularly for landless laborers, small and marginal farmers, and women.
    • The sector provides affordable nutritional food to millions through production of meat, eggs, milk, etc.
    • It serves as a significant source of raw materials such as hides, skins, bones, blood, and fat.
    • Animals act as crucial insurance for Indian farmers against natural disasters like drought, famine, and other calamities.

Approximately 20.5 million individuals rely on livestock for their livelihood, sustaining two-thirds of the rural community. Additionally, it offers employment to around 8% of the population in India. This sector makes a significant contribution to the GDP, accounting for 11%, and represents 25.6% of the total Agriculture GDP.

Noteworthy statistics of Livestock Resources in India

India holds several prominent positions in the global livestock landscape:

  • India is the world’s highest livestock owner, boasting approximately 535.78 million animals.
  • It ranks first in the total buffalo population, with 109.85 million buffaloes.
  • Second in the world for the population of goats, with 148.88 million.
  • It is the second-largest poultry market globally.
  • India is the second-largest producer of fish and is also the second-largest aquaculture nation.
  • It ranks third in the world for the population of sheep, with 74.26 million.
  • Fifth globally in the population of ducks and chickens, totaling 851.81 million.
  • Tenth in the world for the population of camels, with 2.5 lakhs.

Major products by the Animal Husbandry sector in India

Dairy Sector

  • In FY 2019, India possessed approximately 192.5 million cattle, along with significant populations of goats, buffaloes, sheep, and pigs.
  • Milk production in FY 2018-19 reached 187.7 million tons.
  • West Bengal leads in cattle population, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Uttar Pradesh dominates in buffalo population, trailed by Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • India is the second-largest producer of cow milk and holds the largest milk production globally.
  • The majority of cow milk is produced in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka, and Bihar.
  • About two-thirds of buffalo milk comes from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Madhya Pradesh.

White Revolution (Operation Flood):

  • Initiated with the establishment of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965 to promote dairy development through cooperatives.
  • World’s largest integrated dairy development program aimed to link rural milk producers with urban consumers via farmer-owned and -managed dairy cooperatives.
  • Received financial assistance from the World Bank and commodity assistance from the European Economic Community.


  • India became the world’s largest milk producer.
  • Per capita milk availability increased.
  • Approximately 9 million small farmers in 70,000 villages collectively earned an incremental income of 2,500 crore rupees annually.
  • Dairy industry and infrastructure expanded and modernized.

Associated Issues:

  • Collection of milk from remote areas is challenging, costly, and time-consuming.
  • Despite quality cattle breeds, most produce low yields, necessitating cattle breed improvement.
  • Unorganized cattle raisers lack political influence compared to farmers of other crops.
  • Maintaining quality and quantity in a diverse supply base poses logistical challenges.

Schemes Launched:

  • National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBDD): Started in 2014 to provide artificial insemination at farmers’ doorsteps and promote indigenous breeds.
  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission: Launched in 2014 to develop and conserve indigenous bovine breeds.
  • National Dairy Plan: Aims to meet national milk demand and provide rural organic milk to the organized processing sector.
  • National Mission on Bovine Productivity: Launched in 2016 to increase bovine milk productivity.

Future Prospects:

  • Focus on increasing animal productivity to position India as a dairy exporting country.
  • Development of production, processing, and marketing infrastructure meeting international quality standards is essential.
  • The dairy sector is vital for the rural economy in India, necessitating comprehensive action from both government and private sectors.


  • Annual meat production in India is 5.9 million tonnes.
  • 54% comes from goats and sheep, 26% from cattle and buffalo, and 7% from pigs.
  • The remaining 13% is from poultry birds.
  • Uttar Pradesh leads in meat production, contributing over 19% of the total.


  • Poultry refers to domestic fowls raised for flesh, eggs, and feathers.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have the largest number of poultry birds, accounting for 18.2% of India’s total.
  • They also lead in egg production.
  • India is among the top five chicken meat producing countries.
  • Central poultry development organizations provide essential services and training for farmers.
  • The Poultry Development Scheme aids state poultry farms and rural poultry development.


  • Sericulture involves mulberry tree cultivation and silk worm rearing.
  • India produces all five commercial silks, including muga unique to India.
  • Major silk producing states include Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The Northeast produces four silk varieties: Mulberry, Oak Tasar, Muga, and Eri.
  • India is the second largest silk producer globally.
  • Mulberry silk accounts for the most produced.
  • Sericulture is labor-intensive, providing significant rural employment.

Policy Initiatives:

  • Sericulture is included under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
  • Anti-dumping duty on Chinese raw silk is imposed.
  • The Central Silk Board (Amendment) Act aims to enhance quality standards.
  • MGNREGA guidelines support sericulture farmers.


Animal husbandry is crucial for India’s economy and food security, contributing significantly to livelihoods, nutrition, and rural development. Embracing sustainable practices is imperative for achieving balanced growth, safeguarding both human welfare and animal well-being.

FAQs on Animal Husbandry

Question: What is Animal Husbandry?

Answer: Animal husbandry refers to the controlled breeding, management, and care of domestic animals for various purposes such as food, fiber, work, and companionship.

Question: What are the key characteristics of animal husbandry?

Answer: Animal husbandry involves practices such as breeding, feeding, healthcare, housing, and management of animals to ensure their well-being and productivity. It also includes selective breeding to improve desired traits in animals.

Question: Who is considered the father of animal husbandry?

Answer: The father of animal husbandry is considered to be Vilem Prochazka, a Czech scientist and veterinarian who made significant contributions to the field of animal breeding and husbandry in the 19th century.

UPSC PYQ Prelims

Q.1 Consider the following crops of India: (2012)

  1. Cowpea
  2. Green gram
  3. Pigeon pea

Which of the above is/are used as pulse, fodder and green manure?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (a)


Q.1 Livestock rearing has a big potential for providing non-farm employment and income in rural areas. Discuss suggesting suitable measures to promote this sector in India. (2015)

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