Beef Cattle Farming
By Takudzwa Gondo
Beef meat is amongst well known and commonly consumed meat worldwide. Production of beef has been increasingly becoming popular and common worldwide accompanied by technology and modern cattle breeds with better performance as well as improved management through research and development.
There are mainly three main types of beef production systems and these are cow calf production which include producing calves for sale, then purebred breeding which is producing bulls for the cow calf operation and slaughter cattle production where cattle from the cow calf system are fattened for slaughter. Each type of production system has its own feeding and management plan.
When entering the farming business, it’s important that you are aware of the different beef production costs and resources that are needed. Before you start a beef cattle herd, each resource must be managed properly in order to maximize returns. Begin by considering facilities, equipment, feeding, and available health and vaccination programs. Apart from resources, your knowledge about animal health and nutrition, reproduction, and well-being is another essential part of raising cattle.
To be successful in beef production requires the farmer to plan especially in terms of feeding requirements. It requires veld management and efficient grazing system. In order to ensure maximum beef cattle production there has to be sufficiently high intake of nutrients to ensure that the animal can grow and only high intake occurs when there is adequate quantity of grass within the veld. It is also essential to understand and adopt recommended stocking density to avoid overgrazing. Understanding basic veld management principles such as stocking rate, grass quality, grazing period, grass species and even soil fertility are critical components towards the success of beef production enterprise.
The main purpose of keeping animals is to convert feeds into meat, milk, wool and eggs and the conversion of feeds to these products must be done efficiently and also economically. Therefore, it is essential to understand nutritional requirements of beef cattle to be successful in beef farming. Animals must get sufficient fibre, energy, protein, minerals, vitamins for them to be healthy and productive. Supplementation is also essential especially in times of feed shortages to ensure that the animals do not loose condition.
Another important consideration is breed. Usually breeds with ease of calving, heat and humidity tolerance, market acceptance, growth rate and carcass quality are preferred. Some of the preferred breeds include the boran and these can be crossed with other breeds such as Hereford. A beef farmer can keep either improved local cattle breeds or pure breed beef cattle of exotic types or crosses. Indigenous beef cattle breeds often require less capital and are highly adaptable to local climate environmental conditions. Some of the indigenous breeds include Africander, Tuli ,Mashona, and Brahman. Selection of an appropriate breed is essential for the success of the farmer.
Daily management is also critical to prevent diseases through regular dipping and adherence to vaccination schedules as well as consistent monitoring. Locally both internal and external parasites are an extreme challenge. Ticks can cause diseases therefore regular dipping is essential. To control internal parasites.
In the beef cattle farming, technologies are often used to help to continually improve animal well-being and performance, as well as production costs and record keeping. Technological advances have impacted the beef industry on all levels, from cattle monitoring to genetics and production strategies. New technological developments in the areas of vaccines, nutrition, implants physiological modifiers, antibiotics, and genetic improvement are allowing farmers to save time and have better coordinated efforts across all production stages. It is also important to understand these technologies as s farmer and adopt them towards better management.