Cattle raising is not a popular income generating projects, despite the high marketability of cattle meat. In fact, cattle farmers are found only in Batangas, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Masbate, Mindoro, Iloilo and Cotabato. Most of these operators are small- scale raisers fattening only two to three heads at a time.
Cattle fattening offers several advantages to the patient raiser. It provides him a good source of extra income while working his farm or engaging in his non-agriculture occupation. Besides, cattle eat farm by-products such as corn stovers, rice straw, copra meal, rice bran and sugarcane tops. This saves the cattle raiser money he would have spent for feeds.
Looser are also animal. Cattle are less prone to diseases and parasites since they are confined and fattening periods is short. It takes only 120 to 180 days to fatten the cattle of feeder stocks for the market. At this point, the animal already weighs 275-325 and is ready for slaughter.
Buying Feeder Stock
The following breeds are available in the country : Brahman, Ongole, Tharparkar and several grades of these breeds.
Whatever breed you choose, consider the following : age, sex and the ability of the animal to gain weight.
Age is important in selecting feeder stock. In this regard, the raiser can be choose between two kinds of feeder stock : the young ones and the older ones.
Two or three year old cattle are cheaper to buy and acquire less feed for every unit of weight gain because they digest more efficiently. But they need a longer period of feeding in higher feed quality to reach the desired finish.
Older feeder stocks ( four years and above), on the other hand, need less time to fatten. They also eat a larger variety of feeds and roughage. Normally, older stock finish more uniformly than the young ones.
If nutritious feed is abundant. Young cattle are generally more profitable to raise than older ones; but if roughage and farm by-products are available, older stocks are preferable.
Choose steers (castrated males) or improved breeds over heifers (female calves) and purely native animals since steers and improved breeds gain weight faster and are easier to manage.
Other factors to consider are the cattle’s condition and market grade. The animal mist be active and healthy; the eyes are bright, haricot soft and smooth, and muzzle, moist. It must also have square form, well-sprung ribs and large heartgirth. Wide-and full-chested cattle are vigorous and have good appetite.
Calves must be properly vaccinated before they are brought home for fattening. If not , they must be referred to the nearest Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) office for vaccination against hoof-and mouth disease and hemorrhagic septicemia.
Also, the animal must have a fecal examination to find out appropriate deworming drugs. It is necessary to control external parasite with the right spray for ticks, lice and flies.
When buying cattle, it is cheaper to do so during the dry season (January to April). Better road condition make it easier to transport the animals during this period.
Rearing and Feeding
The first few weeks in the feedlot are critical.
Start the calves with roughage having the limited amount of concentrate, gradually increasing the volume of the mixture.
A calf consumers “air dry” feed about 3 per cent of its body weight. Which means the ideal feed must have 12-14 per cent moisture content under ordinary conditions.
Rations differ from to region depending on the available feed materials. Different kinds of concentrates are possible with copra meal, rice bran, sugarcane tops, pineapple, or papaya leftovers mixed with (Molasses which makes the feed more appetizing is a good source of energy.)
Forage-grasses and legumes-is a good feed supplement. Cattle can be given as much roughage, hay, rice bran and molasses as they want.
Provide clean, drinking water for the animal at all times. Rations should also include salt at the rate of 3-5 grams per head daily.
An effective method used by Batangas raisers is force- feeding (Batangueno call it supak system). In this method, which is used in addition to roughage feeding, the animal is force fed with the following mixture: 15 -20 kg of fresh ipil-ipil leaves, finely chopped and pounded, 1/2 kerosene can of clean water and a little salt.
Some cattle raiser include urea in the feeding program as a non-protein (NPN) supplement for ruminants. It must be remembered, however, that only recommended amounts should be given the cattle because any excess is toxic to the animal.
Confine the animal to its feeding area so that it uses less energy and gains weight quickly. However, it can be tethered in grassy areas and exposed to sunlight for short periods.
The cattle must washed at least once a week.
Proper housing and equipment are important in successful cattle fattening operation. The animal should be protected from extreme hot or cold condition.
Shade is necessary. A cow shade can be made out of bamboo, nipa and wood. Each animal should be provided with its own stall. The stall have a feeding passage in front, feed bunk or trough, standing space and a drain at the back.
A word of advise to those planning to engage in backyard cattle fattening project: Always seek the assistance of the Bureau Industry office nearest your place to prevent or solve problems in your project.