Reference : Introducing the first BEDIM-André Buldgen Prize
Diverse speeches and writings : Conference given outside the academic context
Life sciences : Animal production & animal husbandry
Introducing the first BEDIM-André Buldgen Prize
[fr] Présentation du premier prix BEDIM-André Buldgen
Bindelle, Jérôme mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Sciences agronomiques > Zootechnie >]
VET 2011 – Veterinary Medicine in the tropics
[en] Mini-livestock
[en] What is mini-livestock ?

Mini- (or micro-) livestock is a term used to group several animal species reared to produce food or feed and of usually smaller size than commonly reared species. Those species include rodents, snails, reptiles, insects, earthworms, etc. Although some authors consider small species and breeds of common livestock (e.g. rabbits or dwarf cattle) as mini-livestock, mini-livestock species should rather be referred to as unconventional species. Capybara, for example, the world’s largest rodent can weigh up to 90 kg which is far more than African sheep and goats whose adult weight varies between 30 and 60 kg. To be considered as mini-livestock, those unconventional species must be reared in some kind of controlled and sustainable system conversely to the mere management and hunting of game in the wild.

Why keep mini-livestock instead of conventional livestock?

Depending on the context, mini-livestock can have several functions that conventional livestock cannot fulfill or less efficiently. In developing countries, in urban agriculture, where land is scarce or in conflict areas, small livestock species can occupy niches unavailable to larger species. The small size of the animals reduces the financial risk as it is easy to buy, sell or kill one animal of the herd, adapting more efficiently to family’s needs for cash or food. It is also easier to maintain in terms of feed demand. Small animals have usually higher reproductive rates than larger animals. They can be raised by landless farmers harvesting forage on common lands. Finally, as they can be maintained on small farms, they have the potential to increase the productivity of the crops by recycling nutrients from crop residues and kitchen wastes into manure.

Another interesting feature of mini-livestock concerns conservation strategies. Using mini-livestock principles, endangered species highly appreciated as game meat or for other purposes (e.g. skins) are domesticated and reared in sustainable ways. This helps reducing pressure on wildlife and gives the farmer access to lucrative niche market.

What does BEDIM do to help people busy with mini-livestock?

Considering mini-livestock are unconventional species, conversely to cattle, small ruminants, pigs or poultry, few information on rearing systems is available. Nutrition, reproduction, behavior, genetics and health issues, including potential zoonosis, are barely studied and stay unknown. This is a major limitation for the development of mini-livestock and the improvement of the systems efficiency.

BEDIM (Bureau for Exchange and Diffusion of Information on Mini-livestock; was therefore created by the Professor Jacques Hardouin and his colleagues in the nineties as an international non-profit organization with the goal to stimulate information exchange and research on mini-livestock. Presently, BEDIM members are redefining BEDIM activities in the context of information exchange of the 21st century. One new activity is the award of an annual prize to encourage works done on a topic related to mini-livestock. This award is a tribute to the late Professor André Buldgen, former President of BEDIM.
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