Livestock Production Systems

Livestock Production Systems
Livestock production systems consist of many types of land cover and land use, cropping systems, pasture conditions, sizes of human populations, herd structure and genetic composition and management strategies. However, for simplicity livestock production systems can be classified into four types, based on the degree of integration of livestock with cropping systems:
1. Grazing: uniquely livestock systems in which more than 90 % of dry matter fed to animals comes from rangelands, pastures, annual forages and purchased feeds. Grazing systems occupy about 26 % of the Earth’s ice-free land surface;
2. Mixed Rain-fed Systems: more than 90 % of the value of non-livestock farm production comes from rain-fed land use;
3. Mixed Irrigated Systems: more than 10 % of the value of non-livestock farm production comes from irrigated land use;
4. Landless Systems: highly intensive monogastric or ruminant systems where feedstuff is purchased from external sources; associated primarily with urban areas. Depending on the type of production system, livestock play different roles in
people’s livelihoods. For example, in impoverished regions in sub-Saharan Africa, due to poor feed quality a cow might need to consume as much as 10 times more feed to produce a single kilogram of protein as compared to a cow raised in
Argentina. In a low-input pastoral setting in rural Mexico, milk quality and yields are vastly different from livestock reared in high-input dairy farms.
Source: Livestock GeoWiki:

Types and global patterns

The livelihoods and food security of over a billion people are directly dependent upon livestock. The commerce and trade of livestock products contribute 40-50 % of the total global agricultural output and beef, poultry, pork and other animal products (e.g. milk, eggs, and offal) provide one-third of humanity's protein intake. Of the 800 million people who live below the subsistence level of ~US$ 2/day, over 50 % are dependent on livestock, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where about 75 % of all poor livestock keepers are found.
The FAO has documented the indispensable nature of livestock production to the food security and economic stability of resource-poor farmers in developing countries. This includes both livestock as a food source and the various by-products of livestock production, such as skins, fibre, fertilisers and fuel. For example, wool production is extremely important to farmers in the high-altitude regions of Bolivia, Peru and Nepal. Livestock also play an important role in the social, religious and cultural lives of millions.
Currently, about 30-45 % of Earth's land surface is dedicated to livestock and livestock-feed production which represents 75 % of all agricultural land.
Pressure on natural resources and the environment.
The livestock sector exerts enormous pressure on natural resources and the environment. Crucially, the nature of this pressure varies with the type of production system in which livestock are raised, which range from traditional pastoral systems to commercial farms that use industrially produced feedstuff. These different systems are characterised by different levels of intensification and management and thus have very different consequences for the sustainability of the systems and the environment.
Drivers of change
Global production and consumption of animal products has grown enormously in the past 30 years. The primary drivers are population growth, increasing wealth in developing countries, urbanisation and shifts in dietary preferences, especially in developing countries. This growth has been supported by a global economy where grain is relatively inexpensive (and often subsidised), transportation is cheap, animal health and care has improved and trade has been liberalised.

Drivers of environmental change.
Source: WAD3-JRC, J. Reynolds, 2017