Livestock and the Environment

19 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2010

See all articles by Tania Maitra

Tania Maitra

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences

Date Written: June 5, 2010


The association between human beings and animals dates back to prehistoric times. Livestock keeping is a century old tradition for Indian rural households. Animal agriculture is one of the most important components of global agriculture and livestock is one of the main users of the natural resource. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 percent to global agricultural output. Despite of environmental balance and positive contribution of livestock, the massive appetite of the growing urban population for meat, milk and eggs often translates into environmental damage and disruption of traditional mixed farming. Apart from population and poverty, poor integration of livestock has added to the environmental degradation. In this changing economy it has become necessary to consider how to satisfy ever increasing demand for high value animal protein without destroying the environment caused by the massive pressure on animal production. With good management, livestock production can make a positive contribution to the natural resource base by enhancing soil quality, increasing plant and animal biodiversity and substituting for scarce, nonrenewable resources such as fossil fuels.

This article focuses on livestock production and processing, which often have been associated with negative environmental effects. The article also establish the fact that different policies are required to alleviate the negative and enhance the positive impact of livestock on the environment and thereby contribute to the sustainable use of the natural resource base. Thus the challenge is to identify policies and technologies which mitigate any negative environmental impact but which, at the same time, satisfy the considerable demand for livestock products.

Keywords: Environment, Livestock, Animal Husbandry, Beef Hormone Case, Pollution, Mixed Farming System

Suggested Citation

Maitra, Tania, Livestock and the Environment (June 5, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Tania Maitra (Contact Author)

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences ( email )

12, LB Block, Sector III
Salt Lake City
Kolkata, West Bengal 700 064

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