Livestock management involves managing farm animals and supervising farm workers. Livestock management requires knowledge of animal science and animal husbandry, as well as good business sense. Many livestock managers must also keep financial records for their operations. Depending on the size of the farm, managers may perform some physical tasks like operating and maintaining machinery, as well as personally attending to the livestock. Dairy farms,cattle ranches, swine operations, and poultry farms all require effective livestock management to be successful and profitable.
Following Best Practices
Livestock managers have many things to consider when caring for their herd, including animal health, nutrition, reproduction, grazing, hay and forage management, fencing, and more. Managers should also follow market requirements and fluctuations, which will affect the optimal times to market livestock.
Industry best practices will help managers make decisions about the best care techniques for their livestock. For example, demand for grass-fed beef is growing much faster and almost replacing demand for grain-fed beef.
Using Livestock Software
Many livestock managers use specialty agricultural software to track all actions performed in relation to livestock, including feeding, tagging, breeding, treatments, and more. These programs can also manage scheduling and budgeting for farmers. The software will keep detailed records with information vital to farm staff, animal nutritionists, and veterinarians. Ear tagging allows for individual tracking of each animal. Livestock management software is most commonly used for larger animals like cattle, swine, and sheep.
Sustainable and Humane Operations
Another concern with mounting pressure is the sustainability of livestock operations, as well as demand for more humane animal operations. Livestock production provides livelihood for millions of farmers across the world, but consumers are becoming more aware of the greenhouse gas emissions contributed to the atmosphere by livestock. Consumers are also creating higher demands for free-range meats and eggs over animal products from resource-intensive factory farming operations.
The field of livestock management continues to develop innovations for how to better care for livestock. Livestock managers interested in learning more about best practices and industry trends for the future can develop their skills through professional programs and credentialing. For example, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers offers an Accredited Farm Manager designation to managers who have completed a bachelor’s degree program.