Why are animals housed?
Animals are housed in many configurations. In some instances the housing system helps protect and insure the health of the animal. Many hog farmers raise sows and their piglets (new born pigs) in specialized facilities at a separate location then move the weaned pigs to a second or third site to be raised to market weight. This method of production helps protect the health and well-being of the pigs at each production location. A common practice on dairy farms is to have the milking herd at one location, young calves at a second and the farm’s replacement heifers at a third site allowing each stage of production to be tended by individuals who specialize in the care of that size animal. Livestock housing systems may also be arranged to raise animals and birds close to fields used for crop production where manure nutrients may be easily recycled and utilized for crops.
But perhaps the overriding reason for moving animals from pastures to barns, coops and open lots is the efficient use of a limited land base. Livestock that are housed in systems that provide protection from weather’s extremes, shade and cooling on extremely hot days and heat and/or bedding on cold days, are more efficient at turning feed into meat, eggs, milk, fiber and other animal products. Over time farmers with productive soils recognized that an efficient method of production was to provide housing meeting the animal’s need for warmth and ventilation and use crop land to raise feed for animals and products that meet the demand for other human needs.
As livestock and poultry farms increased in size, some farm owners concentrated on animal/poultry production. These farmers raise their animals/birds on a land base suitable for housing livestock then purchase their feed and forage needs from neighboring crop farmers or commodity suppliers. Livestock and poultry producers using this system of specialized production will have arrangements with local crop farmers for the application and utilization of the livestock/poultry manure or process their collected manure into other useable products.