Ruminant Production

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Outline the sheep, goats and cattle production (meat and milk) in the context of livestock production. Get an overview at the worldwide, EU, Portugal and the Azores level of the production systems, the distribution of livestock heads, the level of production and the marketing of products originated from small and large ruminants. Know the role of sheep and goats in the traditional and modern agriculture. Know the factors that most directly affect the ruminant production and their products (meat, milk, wool, skins and other). Know the management techniques of ruminants in the context of animal production. Know the production techniques of beef originated in the dairy systems, in the suckler cows systems and in the multipurpose systems. It is intended that at the end of the course the student should hold the intellectual tools necessary for the daily decisions inherent to a livestock ruminant farm and for many of the activities correlated to the farm.


The ruminant sector in the context of animal production. Sheep, goat, beef and dairy cattle production systems. Overview of sheep, goat and cattle farming worldwide and in the EU; livestock, production, marketing and product consumption. Origin, domestication and zoological classification of sheep goats and cattle. Breeds of goats, sheep and cattle. Feeding of small ruminants and cattle for meat and milk. Feeding the dairy cow in grazing systems. Milk and meat production in small ruminants and cattle. Milking systems. Study of the wool. Favourable and unfavourable aspects in the production of beef from the suckler cows system. Production systems that are the basis for the production of beef; suckler cows, dairy cows and multipurpose cows. Study of the growth and development in ruminants. Growth factors. Morphologic evaluation of the animal for milk or meat production. Carcass classification. Study of factors affecting the intake and the production and quality of cow's milk.

Teaching Methodologies

The formal contact of students with lecturers has the duration of 116 hours including 75h of theoretical approach in the classroom and 41h of practical approach in direct contact with animal farms. Furthermore, the specific conditions of natural closeness between teachers and students of the DCA, favours informal contacts focused in the contents of the subject. The lectures expose concepts using appropriate computational techniques (projection in PowerPoint, Internet search) and other auxiliary instruments such as catalogues (eg. for breeds study). The lectures privilege intense discussion of the various topics presented (because many students come from rural areas, and are embedded in family farming environments) and in practical classes students are required to perform the tasks under the motto "one learns how to do by doing”).


DGP (1987). Recursos Genéticos, Raças Autoctones, Espécies Ovina e Caprina. Lisboa.

Fell, H (1988). Intensive Sheep Management. Farming Press Books. Ipswich. UK.

Gall, C e outros (1981). Goat Production. Academic Press, Londres.

INRA (1986). Production de viande bovine. ISBN 2853407136.

Ensminger, ME and Perry RC (1997). Beef cattle science. Interstate Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0813430062.

CAB International. (1997). Growth of Farm Animals. ISBN 0851991432

World Animal Science. Elsevier (1992). Beef cattle production. ISBN 0444889841.

Wolter, R 1988. Alimentation de la Vache Laitière. 2ª Ed. Editions France Agricole.



ECTS Credits



  • Teóricas - 60 hours
  • Teórico-Práticas - 60 hours