How To Raise Cattle In A Farm For Profits
Growing up, we were taught that any homestead with cattle was the wealthiest in a community. Now, looking back, it goes without saying that business acumen was in people’s veins and cattle was amongst the normal animal that any person would want to breed.
It has transpired that raising cattle may have had a bit of challenges but it was the best means of barter trading. Many families relied on selling cattle to help pay school fees, assist will burial arrangement, help in crop farming and many more. Another form of establishing relations would be paying dowry.
As time went by, it was discovered that raising cattle is a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing faster in the world and anyone can venture into it. It takes patience, passion, attention to detail and getting resources to embark on the farming journey. Even though cattle farming may seem easy to do but it is wise to first research about the breed to keep, feed required for that breed, vaccines and any other related information required.
It is advisable that as a cattle farmer beginner, be sure to acquire pasture land or alternative feed when its winter or dry season, acquiring information from the Veterinary offices and getting a herdsman. Always have an ample supply of water and dipping tank near your place. A substantial capital is required even if its small scale farming, having a proper kraal built from wood or fence, and feeding equipment.
Feeding And Ruminating
Cattle chiefly eats grass and they need more time feeding on grass since they have room of up to 15kg in its first stomach. A cow needs at least 8 hours a day to feed off pasture. Once it has had its fill, it wants to lie down but goes on moving its jaws. The cow will need a several hours to ruminate and it enjoys being under shelter or being in the kraal to ruminate well. Give cattle enough feed that is rich in supplements and ensure that feed is available year round.
Recommended feed besides grass is; silage, animal feed supplements, grains, protein blocks, hay and water. Where you pasture your cattle at least divide it into 4 parts if you have you own land so you can allow the grass to grow in the other parts. Cut out weeds in your pasture before they seed and multiply.
- Silage – dig a silo (pit) for keeping the grass and it should be 2m deep and 2 m wide. At the bottom of pit put large stones then add the grass. Once filled up, cover with earth and stones to close it. Grass is preserved for a lengthy period and ensure that you don’t take 2 days when making the silo.
- Hay – Cut the grass when it is green and make sure that is hasn’t seeded and is hard, then dry it. You may also dry stalks and leaves of groundnuts. Don’t wait too long to cut the grass which will become straw and animals don’t eat straw.
- Animal feed supplements – The cattle are given oil made cake from groundnuts and cottonseed or copra. Another meal fed to cattle would be a combination of maize meal, copra oil cake, groundnut oil cake and mineral salts.
- Grains – mix with proteins and these are best for lactating cows. Sorghum is bets cracked then 1% of limestone is added in the feed. It’s ideal to feed cattle every 2nd day.
- Protein blocks /lick – You can give this by adding it into water or in the hay. The blocks aid in strong bone growth.
- Water – animals need water and an oxen can drink 30 – 40 liters of water a day. They can either drink at the cattle shed or from the river or stream, or at a well.
Know How To Feed Calves
- The mother’s milk is the best as calves cannot ruminate and they cannot feed on grass.
- Never feed tow claves with the milk of one cow because the milk given is too little.
- A 2 month old calf feed on 4 – 6 liters of milk per day. During the calf feeding period, do not milk the cow.
- At 3 weeks of age give a little green grass and when the calf is 3 months it can digest grass. The calf can be weaned and farmers are encouraged to introduce feed supplements as well as grass because the calf does not easily adapt to feed change. Mix the feed supplement with water for ease on calf digestion.
- Do not forget to include mineral supplements which will help in strong bones.
- Feed calves any of these foods;
- Cereals which include millet, sorghum, maize, and rice. Crush these cereals for ease in digestion. The feed may be expensive but you may buy broken or damaged grain for the calf.
- Oil cake is from remains of oil from groundnuts, copra, palm kernels or cottonseed.
- Meal for calves is a mixture of crushed grain and oil cake.
Looking After Cattle
Farmers who leave their animals to roam freely, who does not watch them, has not much work to do. Allowing them to roam freely will encourage the bad habits on the following;
- They will not to make good use of the grass.
- They will have accidents and get diseases.
- They will damage crops.
Watch over your cattle by erecting a paddock (made from posts and wire or branches) by fencing the pasture. There is a cheaper way of making a fence and it’s by planting trees very close to one another.
The cattle are under watch, they can’t get out and damage crops, and will make better use of the pasture.Acquire services of a herdsman is animals are large in quantity. Train a dog to lead the animals to prevent them from leaving the herd and to bring them back when they do.
The Shed Or House For Cattle
The number of cattle to be bred will determine the size of the shed but consider that a cow needs a space of about 6 square meters (which is 3 by 2 meters).
The shed should have a wall on the wind direction side, high, and the 3 walls should be about 2 meters high. Construct the shed with cement bricks if it will not be expensive, however, mud bricks can work as well. How To Raise Cattle Erect poles on the 3 walls to support the roof which will be made out of grass. On the shed floor, scatter rotting straw and put on a gate. The gate must be big enough for a cart to enter.
Next to the shed, erect a paddock for your animals to move freely and the shed will be co-joined with it for shielding the silo area. Use strong fence made out of posts, branches or thorns. Have a few trees nearby to give shade. Have feed troughs and watering troughs made out of hollowed trunk trees or barrels cut in half.
For beginners who have no financing for their project, they are advised to at least erect a kraal to ensure the safety of their animals. Over time they can put up a shed.
Knowing cattle reproduction will enable you to know the type of breed to choose from and understanding the cattle’s breeding time. Once you are knowledgeable then you will get healthy, fast growing and productive animals.
BREEDING AND THE TYPES OF BREED
The types of breed have to be carefully scrutinized because the farmer must consider the conditions of the area, the type of produce expected from breeding, the yield of the end product, i.e. – beef, dairy and their hide (skin).
When selecting a breed, understand the functional efficiency, capability of producing and reproducing with minimum effort, input cost and physical day to day work. Animals must achieve an above average daily gain but at the same time the mass gain must be economically viable.
Take into account the feed conversion ratio to achieve a good growth rate, observe their health parameter and body score.
There’s a wide variety of breed and we will look at a few breed and their manageability for a beginner;
- Bonsmara – this breed is a functional efficient cattle which adapts to any environment making it easy to survive and the animals grow faster. The adaptability and fertility encourages the female animals to produce a calf a year. They are heat tolerant breed and are recorded to give high quality beef.
- Masbra Red Brahman – Brahman breed is good for beef production and they adapt on the veld, and yield good carcass quality. This breed can give good return investment like the Bonsmara breed.
- Friesian – these are bred as a dual-purpose animal and they are recommended as dairy breed which has the highest milk yield.
- Nguni – this breed adapted well to African environment therefore displaying functional characteristics though it is slightly small in size compared to other breeds. They are muscular with well-developed muscular cervico-thoracic humps (the hump in front of the foreleg). Their hide is sleek and glossy which prevents tick attaching to it. They are heat and light tolerant making them to handle extreme weather conditions. Ideal for meat and milk production.
- Afrikander – this is a popular native beef breed for South Africans. It is heat tolerance, a high level of tick resistance, and has satisfactory levels of fertility even under harsh environment. Though it may have milking ability but it can only produce enough to raise a thrifty calf. They tend to be a late maturing animal and yields carcass with relatively low fat cover.
- Jersey – they produce denser milk that is higher in buttermilk.
- Limousin – this breed originated in the province of Limousin in west central France and are good for draft qualities as well as meat production. They are described as ‘’strong, fast, and active.’’ They are considered for its efficiency in red meat production.
- Simmental – they ate valued for the ability to do work and to produce milk and meat and they produce lean beef naturally. They are among the feed efficiency breed
- Angus – this breed has a higher significant percentage of carcass grading compared to other breeds and are most efficient when fed to constant marbling.
- Tuli GENETICS – this breed provides an opportunity for producers to use a heat tolerant breed that does not compromise quality carcass.
PRODUCTION OF MILK AND MEAT
All breeds have their unique specialty in productivity, the body score, adaptability, their origin, the history of the breed, and climate tolerance. Most cattle are known for meat production but lately, farmers have taken an interest in milk production and calving productivity.
The nutritional value in every feed is important and the feed ratio per cow per day. Don’t take herd to pasture that has unpalatable grass as this would lessen good milk production.
The mortality rate of calves per breed should also be considered as you would not want to breed at a loss.
KNOW YOUR MARKET
Know your consumers before- hand and be sure to always sell the best from your animals. Don’t overfeed the cattle and try to fool your consumers because the product will show, besides showing, the meat is inspected at the abattoir.
The inspectors will ensure that consumers ingest healthy meat that is free from diseases and parasites. Some farmers may not sell their produce but would prefer barter trade depending on the needs of the buyer or seller.