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Farming with Animals: See What Makes It Interesting - Printable Version

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Farming with Animals: See What Makes It Interesting - Henlus - 02-16-2016

Farming with animals is called draft animal power (DAP). It is an ancient practice but it can still be use today by small scale farmers. If you look around in many places, you’ll notice that majority of farmers practiced small scale farming and a lot of them employ manual labor, especially in poor countries. A work animal can do the work of 10 men… DAP is often more economical than machineries and vehicles that cost millions of naira. The value of machineries depreciates while that of animals appreciates as they give birth. DAP is not powered by fosil fuel. It depends on bioenergy for its creation, maintenance and functioning.

Apart from carrying loads, animals can be use to plough. This is easily employed in fields without roots of trees and shrubs. So fallow period of fields should be short. 2 oxen can plough 8 hactare of land in 32 days. That is 0.25ha per day. 2 bullock working 6hrs/day can plough an acre in 2.75 days. One buffalo working 8hrs/day can plough0.27-0.4ha of paddy land or 0.4-0.53ha of non-irrigated land. Each oxen will need 2000kg DM/yr in feed or 5.5kg DM/day. Green grass can be fed at 5-7kg/day and increased to 10kg/day when work is much. Small amount of supplement should also be given. They include brans, oil cakes, pulses, rice hull, molasses etc.

Research workers recommends that land be ploughed 6-7 times before sowing. But some farmers plough 4-5 times.
The true reason for poor penetration of plough is not the weight of the plough, but  worn or incorrectly aligned shares, tines etc, bad design. Higher angle of pull reduce work load on the animal and reduce the work the implement can do, but the animal will not get exhausted easily.

For low draught operations like weeding and planting, using single animal with well-designed harnesses will double the work output.

Load Carrying Capacity: A load weighing 800-1000kg on a wooden wheel can be drawn by a buffalo over 24km in a working day.  A buffalo can raise enough water to irrigate 0.73ha of paddy in 4 hours.
As a general rule, provided all other factors are favorable, bovines (i.e. cattle and buffaloes) should be able to provide a sustainable draught force of 10-12% of their body weight, while equines (horses, donkeys and mules) and camels will provide 12-14%.

Work Day: Average work day if 4-5 hrs for cows, 6hrs for buffaloes. Animals used for ploughing follows a pattern of 6-8 days of ploughing and 2 days of rest. A bullock in full time ploughing (i.e. maximum heavy labor) typically work for 163 days per year. 

Harnesses: Yorks are used for bovines and collar harnesses with breast strap for equines. Either single yokes or collar harnesses can be used on single oxen. Double shoulder yoke is easy and cheap to make but is inefficient and causes sores and injuries. Shaping the yoke to give a large contact area between the yoke, neck and shoulder with padding if necessary, inimizes pressure and enables the animal to exert more force without pain and improve the power output.
Full or split collar harnesses can be used effectively with oxen, buffalo and donkeys.


RE: Farming with Animals: See What Makes It Interesting - FarmKing - 08-22-2017

Nice writeup. But the problem is where to get the necessary implements like plough, yokes etc. You're likely to see them in the north.


RE: Farming with Animals: See What Makes It Interesting - Kiwi - 04-23-2020

How strong are female horses or cows compare to the males? Or is it only the males that can be use to work? Tnks..