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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Agriculture, ecosystems & environment
Title The environmental ecology of oxen used for draught power
Volume 97
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
Page numbers 21-37
URL https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Richard_Wilson23/publication/222566570_The_environmental_ecolog​y_of_oxen_used_for_draught_power/links/5559c0ff08ae980ca6108e6b.pdf
More than half the world’s population depends on animal power for much of its energy. Draught animals operate on
more than 50% of the planet’s cultivated areas. In the mid 1990s work by draught animals was estimated to be equivalent
to a fossil fuel replacement value of US$ 6 billion. Estimates of the number of animals used for power applications range
from 300 million upwards. Oxen (cattle) are the most frequently used animals and ploughing is the most common function.
Almost all species of domestic quadruped are used, however, in a variety of agricultural and transport roles. Research and
development literature tends to stress the perceived positive effects of the use of animal power while ignoring any negative
ones. In agriculture positive effects are seen to be integration per se and intensification of crop and livestock production, higher
crop output, better returns to labour, increased cash income and improved food security. The potential or real negative aspects
of animal traction include reduced other forms of animal production due mainly to the effects of draught animal ownership on
herd composition, the additional labour needed for feeding and care, degradation of land and vegetation due to heavy grazing
pressure and major additions to global warming gases from the totality of livestock. This paper attempts to provide a holistic
analysis of the use of oxen for power applications based on literature sources and empirical work and observations by the
author in numerous countries over many years

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