Livestock, Fattening of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Livestock, Fattening of


(also finishing of livestock), the intensified feeding of animals to obtain the greatest quantity of high-quality meat. Cattle, swine, sheep, poultry, and rabbits are fattened. The quality of the meat and the economic indexes of the fattening of livestock depend on the species, breed, sex, age, health, and fatness of the animal, as well as on type and intensiveness of feeding and on maintenance conditions. The best results are achieved by fattening specialized meat breeds and hybrids obtained from commercial crossbreeding. Animals that are fattened include the entire healthy population to be slaughtered for meat, the young remaining after completion of the basic herd composition, and adult animals discarded from the basic herd. For the best maintenance conditions, animals are grouped according to sex, age, fatness, and temperament.

Cattle. In cattle raising several types of fattening are used to obtain dietetic veal, regular veal, baby beef, and beef. Fattening for dietetic veal, which is used mainly for feeding ill persons, begins when the calf is born and continues for 45 to 60 days. The principal feed is milk, with skim milk and concentrates added toward the end of the fattening period. To obtain regular veal, the calves are fattened until they are three or four months old. Beginning on the 15th to 20th days, the ration of whole milk is supplemented with whole-milk substitutes, skim milk, and concentrates. These forms of fattening are most frequently used in the United States, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany. For the production of baby beef, fattening begins at the age of six to eight months and continues until the cattle are nine to 12 months old. Baby beeves are raised in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and some Western European and Latin American countries. An intensive fattening program, principally on a commercial scale, for obtaining beef is used extensively in the USSR, Western Europe, and North America.

In the USSR, dairy and dairy-meat breeds are fattened for 18 to 20 months (in major cattle-breeding regions, for 14 to 18 months), until the animals reach a weight of 400 to 480 kg. The cattle are fed green and succulent feeds, silage, hay, and industrial by-products (vinasse, bagasse). The principal feeds provide 50 to 70 percent of the required nutritional elements. Cattle are kept indoors or are pastured. The average daily weight gain is between 800 and 1,200 g. Eight to 11 feed units are expended per kg of weight gain; on beef-producing farms, 4.2–6.3 man-hours are expended for each quintal of weight gain. In South America, Africa, Oceania, Mongolia, and some regions of the USSR, where the principal sources of feed are natural pastures, extensive (as opposed to intensive) fattening programs are used.

Swine. The fattening program for pigs raised for meat begins when the animals are 2½ months old and lasts 4½ or five months. The live weight increases from 15 or 16 kg to 95 to 100 kg; the thickness of the lard opposite the sixth and seventh ribs increases from 1.5 to 4 cm. The average daily weight gain is 500 to 600 g, and the expenditure of feed per kg of weight gain is 4.5 to 5 feed units. For a high yield of bacon, well-developed pigs of early-maturing breeds and hybrids are fattened from 2½ months of age until they are six or seven months old. Weight increases from 20–25 kg to 90–100 kg (thickness of lard opposite the sixth and seventh ribs increases from 2 to 4 cm). Fattening to an obese condition is used to obtain heavy carcasses with a large quantity of fat (40–50 percent or more). Discarded adult sows, including registered sows whose young have been weaned, are fattened for fat. Fattening lasts three months, with an average daily weight gain of 800–1,200 g (thickness of lard at the sixth and seventh ribs no less than 7 cm). The expenditure of feed per kg of weight gain is up to 7 feed units. Production of pork on a commercial basis is developed in the USSR, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, Rumania, Hungary, the United States, and Great Britain.

Sheep. In sheep raising it is most profitable to fatten lambs of meat-wool breeds, as well as hybrids resulting from the commercial crossbreeding of fine-wooled ewes with rams of meat-wool and semi-fine-wooled breeds. Fattening is started immediately after weaning and ends when the animal is between seven and nine months old. The principal feeds are hay, silage, concentrates, bagasse, and vinasse. Experiments are being conducted on feeding sheep granulated mixed feeds. On many farms the lambs are stall fed after being pastured for approximately two months. By eight months of age the animals weigh 45–50 kg (slaughter yield is 44—46 percent). In regions with extensive natural pastures, the sheep are pastured year-round.

Poultry. The production of poultry meat in the USSR is accomplished by specialized rearing of broilers and fattening of poultry segregated from various farm groups—chicks not acceptable for a commercial or breeding flock (aged two to six months) and birds discarded from a commercial or parental flock (aged six to 12 months). Weight gain during fattening, which takes 15 to 25 days, is 35 percent; expenditure of feed per kg of weight gain is 6–9 feed units. The mixed-feed industry produces complete mixed feeds, mixed-feed concentrates, and premixes for poultry. Poultry are fattened in all countries with a developed poultry industry, that is, in Eastern Europe, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, the United States, and Canada.


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Azarov, G. S. Otkorm i nagul skota miasnykh porod. Moscow, 1971.
Promyshlennoe ptitsevodstvo: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1971.
Ovtsevodstvo, vols. 1–2. Edited by G. R. Litovchenko and P. A. Esaulov. Moscow, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.