Cattle Raising

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Cattle Raising


a branch of animal husbandry concerned with raising cattle for milk, beef, and hides; in some countries cattle are used as draft animals. Products made from cow’s milk account for about 90 percent of the world’s dairy products. In the period 1961–65 the world cattle population was 992.0 million head and in 1974, 1,178.8 million head. In the period 1961–65 world milk production was 324.4 million tons and world meat production 30,988,000 tons; in 1974 world milk production was 386.9 million tons, and world meat production 42,045,000 tons.

Cattle raising dates from prehistoric times when man first domesticated cattle. Cattle were originally raised for meat and as draft animals; like feral cattle, domesticated cattle gave little milk. Only when man made cow’s milk part of his diet and when he acquired the skills needed to make butter, cheese, and other dairy products did milk production grow more important. Cow dung was used as a fertilizer and, in steppe regions, as fuel.

USSR. In Russia, with the development of capitalism, cattle raising lost its dispersive quality, concentrating more and more near large cities and industrial centers and in commercial dairy-farming regions, such as the Baltic region, the northern and central nonchernozem zone, Western Siberia, and the Urals. Such concentration had no significant influence, however, on cattle raising in the country as a whole; in most areas cattle remained small, late-maturing, largely unproductive, and of indeterminate breed.

In 1916, Russia had 58.4 million head of cattle, including 28.8 million dairy cows. On Jan. 1, 1928, the USSR had, on all types of farms, 66.8 million head of cattle, including 33.8 million dairy cows. In 1961 it had 75.8 million head of cattle, including 34.5 million dairy cows; in 1974 the corresponding figures were 106.3 and 42.2 million respectively, and in 1975, 109.1 and 41.9 million.

In 1941 kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and other state farms had 43 percent of all cattle in the USSR, including 25 percent of the dairy cows; in 1975 they had as much as 77.5 percent of all cattle and as much as 66.1 percent of all dairy cows.

Systematic planning for the qualitative improvement of cattle dates from the first years of Soviet power. On July 19, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars issued a decree on pedigree stock breeding, a decree that laid the foundation for systematic measures aimed at improving cattle raising and at organizing pedigree stock farms and breeding stations. The dairy cooperative system, which established inspection associations in various regions, greatly helped raise milk production. As a result of purebred resources study, a scientifically based plan for qualitative improvement of local, unproductive cattle was drawn up, a plan that involved crossing local stock with highly productive breeds. The basic steps necessary to organize pedigreed stock breeding were determined.

About 50 cattle breeds and breed groups are raised in the USSR; the most common are Simmental, Red Steppe, Hol-stein-Friesian, Brown Swiss, Kholmogor, Bestuzhev, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Brown Latvian, and Kazakh White-faced. The proportion of purebred cattle in kolkhozes and sovkhozes rose from 10 percent in 1932 to 99 percent in 1974.

Cattle productivity has increased significantly as cattle have undergone qualitative change and as feeding and housing have improved. Between 1950 and 1974 the average annual milk production per cow at kolkhozes and sovkhozes rose from 1,137 kg to 2,418 kg; at many pedigree stock farms it has reached 4,500–5,000 kg and more. The USSR has surpassed many of the developed capitalist countries in rate of growth of total milk production and in rate of growth of per capita milk production. In 1950 milk production in the USSR was 35.3 million tons, and in 1974, 91.8 million tons. In 1950 beef production was 2.3 million tons, and in 1974,6.4 million tons.

There are several types of cattle raising, distinguished by the ratio between milk production and beef production. Dairy farming, typical of the Baltic region, Byelorussia, and the central European USSR, emphasizes milk production. Dairy-beef farming, concentrated in the Ukraine, Moldavia, the central chernozem regions, the Urals, the Northern Caucasus, Western Siberia, and the Soviet Far East, produces milk and some meat. Beef-dairy farms and beef-cattle farms, typical of Middle Asia, Eastern Siberia, and the Volga region, are devoted, either primarily or entirely, to beef production.

Cattle raising is evolving toward intensification and concentration of production. In the USSR, intensification—for example, mechanization and electrification of labor-intensive processes, new and more efficient housing methods, and higher rates of herd reproduction—goes hand in hand with quantitative growth. Concentration entails intrasector specialization; that is, specialized farms and specialized livestock divisions on sovkhozes and kolkhozes must be established for milk production, for the raising of replacement stock, for reproduction, and for the raising and feeding of beef cattle. In addition to specialized farms, certain general farms have set up specialized livestock units and have established complete herd cycles. At large specialized farms and livestock units, machinery is used more efficiently, the feeding and housing of various farm animals is simpler, and labor is more productive. Large complexes for the production of milk and meat are being established, as are specialized farms for intensive raising and feeding of calves; both types employ industrial technology, which envisions comprehensive mechanization and partial automation of production.

In the USSR scientific research on cattle raising is done at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Livestock Breeding, at republic and regional research institutes of agriculture and animal husbandry, and at experiment stations. Cattle raising is taught as a scholarly discipline at many agricultural, zootechnical, veterinary, and zooveterinary higher educational institutions and technicums. The monthly journals Zhivotnovodstvo (Animal Husbandry; published since 1939), and Molochnoe i Miasnoe Skotovodstvo (Dairy and Beef Cattle Raising; 1956) publish news on stock raising. Monographs, textbooks, and other literature on cattle raising are printed in large editions.

Abroad. Dairy farming is highly developed in Western Europe, the USA, and Canada, and specialized beef production, in the USA, Canada, South America, numerous Western European countries (Great Britain, France), Australia, and New Zealand (see Table 1). In 1974 New Zealand produced 1,872 kg of milk per capita, Denmark 949, the Netherlands 731, France 563, Switzerland 505, Poland 502, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) 459, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) 346, Canada 347, and the USA 247. In the same year, Argentina produced 87.5 kg of beef per capita, Uruguay 116.5, Australia 112, the USA 50, Canada 41, France 37.1, Czechoslovakia 28.2, and the FRG 20.

In all countries with highly developed animal husbandry, cattle raising is becoming more specialized. For example, in the USA dairy farming is most highly developed in the northeast, where there are many large cities; beef production is concentrated in the Great Plains (the beef belt); and feedlots are found principally in the western and southwestern states. Intensification of cattle raising is characteristic of many countries, as shown in the rise in cattle productivity. In the USA, average annual milk production per cow rose from 3,519 kg in the period 1961–65 to 4,666 kg in 1974, in the Netherlands, from 4,183 to 4,500, in Sweden from 3,376 to 4,105, in Denmark from 3,739 to 4,042, in the GDR from 2,662 to 3,660, in Czechoslovakia from 1,900 to 2,619, and in Poland from 2,144 to 2,500.

In the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain and other countries, intensified dairy farming has meant fewer cows, concentration of milk production at large farms, and the elimination of small farms. Concentration is also well under way in beef production. In 1974 the USA produced 83 kg of meat per head, Czechoslovakia 90.4, the FRG 86.9, Canada 69.1, Sweden 78, France 85.3, Argentina 38.8, Uruguay 32.7, and Mexico 20.2. In the USA, Canada, Argentina, and Uruguay, most beef comes from meat breeds; in Europe most comes from dairy and dairy-meat breeds. In breeding dairy cattle, therefore, increasing meat productivity has been emphasized, and crossbreeding with beef cattle has been undertaken.


Skotovodstvo: Krupnyi rogatyi skot, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1961.
Rukovodstvo po razvedeniiu zhivotnykh, vol. 3, book 1. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from German.)
Dudin, S. Ia. Miasnoe skotovodstvo. Alma-Ata, 1967.
Tulupnikov, A. I. Technicheskii progress i ekonomika zhivotnovodstvo SShA. Moscow, 1969.
Skotovodstvo. Edited by E. A. Arzumanian. Moscow, 1970.
Beguchev, A. P. Formirovanie molochnoi produktivnosti krupnogo rogatogo skota. Moscow, 1969.
Table 1. Cattle, milk production, and beef production in some capitalist and socialist countries
 Cattle (thousands)Milk (thousand tons)Beef (thousand tons)
1Average per year
Argentina ........................43,09658,0004,2946,1512,2292,226
Brazil ...........................59,77088,0005,8707,3031,4042,100
Bulgaria .........................1,5171,4548621,4105795
Canada ..........................11,26513,3188,3567,570734919
Czechoslovakia ....................4,4664,5563,7665,491272410
Federal Republic of Germany............13,11314,36420,58621,5541,1211,216
France ..........................20,13122,86425,09129,6001,4331,780
German Democratic Republic............4,6055,4825,7047,804232389
Great Britain.......................11,81615,22711,97314,0768951,078
India ......................175,726179,9008,1018,4006071
Italy ............................9,2588,4089,28610,2006791,040
New Zealand.......................6,6469,4155,5685,654278401
Poland ..........................9,69713,02312,83717,000403619
Ernst, L. K., and B. P. Ulanov. Technologiia proizvodstva moloka nafer-makh promyshlennogo tipa. Moscow, 1973.


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