Cattle fattening has gained prominence as an important business project of the livestock industry in the Philippines. It gives the farmer year-round work and provides him with extra income. He can make use of cheap, plentiful farm by-products such as corn stovers, rice straw, copra meal, rice bran and sugarcane tops, which ordinarily go to waste. Most importantly, it helps meet the urgent demand for high-protein foods in the Filipino diet.
Backyard cattle fattening or on a large scale can be profitably undertaken. It consists of buying healthy stock, feeding and fattening them for 120 to 180 days, and selling them at anytime of the year. Minimum space for housing is required: 1.5 to 2 sq. meters per head for a sheltered feeding area, and 5 meters per head for a fenced loafing area.
Given the proper care, there is less danger of diseases and parasites affecting confined animals and the fattening period is shorter. Marbling or inter-mixture of fat and lean in meat is better obtained through feedlot fattening. This is preferred by customers.
Selecting Feeder Stock
To make profit and produce good meat, consider the following points:
- Two to three year- old animals need less feed for every unit of weight gain because they digest more efficiently and consume larger volume of feed in proportion to body weight.
- Younger animals cost less because of lesser weight. They require longer period of feeding and higher feed quality to reach the desired finish.
- Older feeder stock (4 years and above) need less time in the feedlot and will eat a wider variety of feed and roughage than young stock. If nutritious feed is abundant, younger cattle are generally more economical to fatten. If only roughage and plant by-products are available, older stock are preferable.
2. Sex – Steers (castrated males) are preferred to heifers (unbred females) because they are readily available and easier to manage. Steers also gain weight and grow faster than heifers.
3. Breed – Improved breeds and crossbreds gain weight faster than native animals. Tropical breeds are more adaptable to local climatic and feed conditions than temperate breeds. Some of the recommended tropical breeds are:
- a. Brahman -color is silver gray, some are reddish. This breed is resistant to diseases and can withstand heat better.
- b. Ongole or Nellore -color is white. The bulls may have dark gray head, neck and hump. Knees may be black.
- c. Indu-Brazil- colors vary from light to silver gray and brownish dark gray to red.
- d. Batangas cattle -this is not really a distinct breed of cattle in the Philippines. Cattle fattened in Batangas comes from Mindoro, Masbate and other provinces. The term Batangas beef has become popular because of the good quality cattle produced by the “supak” method of Batangas.
4. Health Condition – A healthy animal is alert and active, has bright eyes, smooth haircoat and moist muzzle. Avoid animals with rough skin and those which are blind and lame. Make sure that the animals have been properly vaccinated against common diseases before bringing them to the feedlot.
When to Buy Stock
Feeder stock usually comes cheap during the dry season (January to April). Country roads are more accessible during these months, making it easy to transport animals from ranch or auction markets to the farm.
Feed is a key to profitable cattle raising. Cattle need food nutrients for maintenance, growth and production. The animal raiser must formulate feeds based on his animals’ sex, age, weight gain desired and the moisture content of available roughage and feeds.
The feed ration should be adjusted to the requirements for fattening cattle based on the availability of feed materials in the locality. Cattle can be fattened on all rough- age rations or on roughage-concentrate ration. Give good quality grass-legume mixture in the form of pasture herbage. It is best to restrict animal movement at all times, so that it uses less energy and gains weight quickly.
The moisture content of feed is important. There is maximum dry matter intake if the ration has only about 34% moisture content. Cattle becomes fatter during summer eating dry grass than during the rainy season when the animals are allowed to eat large amounts of young, fresh grass. Cattle will consume feed at a rate of about 2.5 percent of its body weight. The animals need the following nutrients:
- a. Dry matter that satisfies the animal ‘s appetite and promotes good digestion;
- b. Protein in amounts based on age, sex, body weight and desired productivity;
- c. Energy from carbohydrates, fats and excess protein;
- d. Essential minerals like salt, calcium and phosphorus. Salt intake increases the water intake of the animals. The daily intake should be about 0.045 kg per 45.45 kg of body weight;
- e. Vitamins A, D, and E; and
- f. Water is a most important nutrient. Its intake by cattle depends on the temperature, humidity, moisture content of the roughage, dry or wet feeding, and salt content of feed nutrients.
To estimate the daily feed requirement, young fatteners consume about 3 per- cent of their body weight in air-dry feed. A fresh grass has about 75% moisture con- tent. Therefore, a 250 kgs. feeder cattle will require 7.5 kgs. of grass with a 12-14% moisture. However, given fresh grass it requires 35 kgs.
Roughage-concentrate ration is the combination of forage or farm by-products and concentrates. Some common concentrates are rice bran, copra meal, ipil-ipil leafmeal and corn by-products, including meat and bone meal and salt. The farm by- products could be utilized as concentrate mixtures and given to cattle at least twice a day.
Recommended Concentrate Mixtures used for Cattle Fattening:
- Copra meal 60%
- Rice bran 39%
- Salt/powdered Shell 01%
- Copra meal 50%
- Rice bran 25%
- Dried chicken Manure 24%
- Salt/powdered shell/ground limestone 01 %