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Namibia: Understanding of Livestock-Environment Interaction
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Namibia: Understanding of Livestock-Environment Interaction

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LIVESTOCK farms’ objectives are to increase and sustain production. This in turn exerts pressure on animals’ physiological abilities to perform.

These performance aspects include reproduction. Health. Feed conversion. And general adaptability.

Three factors affect the productivity of a livestock farm: the environment, the animal and the management system. The animal’s productivity may be affected if these factors are not combined.

These attributes are also important in determining the importance of each factor in determining productivity.


The animal’s ability to produce is largely influenced by its genetic makeup or, more generally, its breed type.

Different livestock breeds have different physiological and structural abilities that can impact their performance in different environments.

There are many differences between the different animal breeds, including their ability to adapt to the environment and feed conversion, as well as disease resistance.

Personal preferences and management abilities are also important factors in the choice of breed. However, the main driver of performance is genetic-environmental interaction. For example, different breeds of sheep such as the Damara and Dorper have different genetic attributes that affect adaptability and weight gain. These can be used as indicators of performance depending on the production goals and the environment.


The animal’s performance is affected by its environment. This is mainly due the environment, including temperature and rainfall, topographic features such as mountains or plains, and finally, the availability or quality resources such as water and forage.

The ability of an animal to adapt to and withstand changes in its environment is critical to its survival and performance. However, animals that are native to their environment perform better than non-natives.

Furthermore, adaptability can be measured on both temporal and spatial scales. As a result of genetic-environmental interaction, an animal may adjust or adapt to a new environment when exposed to it over time, due its genetics being influenced to express adaptive traits.

It is common for non-native species to suffer from low productivity or extreme environmental conditions.


A livestock management plan should be based upon the production goals and set targets. To achieve those objectives, specific activities must be undertaken.

To ensure that the production goals and targets are achieved, the management program should aim at harmonising the interaction between the animal’s genes and its environment.

This includes practices such health maintenance, feed, water provision and general animal welfare (shelter). These practices ensure that the animal performs optimally.

The market also influences the farming goals, which can lead to the introduction of breeds that meet specific market needs, which in turn puts pressure on the animal as well as the environment.