Cattle Raising Primer

Beef has come to seem a hazardous substance. If years of warnings about the dangers of saturated fat and heart disease weren’t enough, Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation (2001) — with its graphic and disturbing picture of the inhumane working conditions of meatpackers and the contamination from criminally rushed slaughtering and processing — made clear that it is unwise if not foolhardy to eat beef ground by anyone but yourself.

Almost all cattle raised for beef are force-fed corn (which costs less to buy than it does to grow), and the resulting stress makes it necessary to keep them on high doses of antibiotics. “Finishing” for corn-fed beef takes place on vast feedlots, where cattle raised in many parts of the world are trucked to a miserable end. This force-feeding provokes moral hesitations like those raised by that notorious product of force-feeding, foie gras. At least geese are designed to eat corn.

There is an alternative: grass-fed beef. Ideally this refers to animals raised in open pastures and fed grass and silage all their lives after weaning. Grass feeding results in far lower levels of saturated fat and high levels of both omega-3 fatty acids (more commonly found in fish, and thought to help prevent heart disease) and the newest darling of the nutritional world — CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), polyunsaturated fat that may help prevent cancer. These benefits, and also higher levels of antioxidants, appear in all food from all animals that eat grass, milk and cheese as well as meat.

Types of Cattle Raising

1. Cow-calf Operation

In a cow-calf operation, cows and bulls are raised to produce calves which are raised until they are weaned from their dams at seven (7) to eight (8) months of age. After weaning, they can be sold immediately, or raised for a few more months for use as replacement stocks or sold for fattening

The cow-calf operation is considered most challenging because the breeder needs to be familiar with the reproductive cycle, management practices involved in the production and maintenance of cows, bulls and calves as well as breeding and feeding systems. A good animal health program should also be observed to minimize mortality and ensure the productivity of the animals.

2. Breeder Farm Operation

In a breeder farm operation, the main interest of the raisers is to produce animals for breeding purposes. There is a set of selection criteria for calves and they are raised until they are ready for breeding.

Since the main output of a breeder farm is quality breeding animals, a large herd is necessary for the selection of the replacement stocks. Purebred animals are usually utilized in this type of operation. The breeder farm can be maintained in the ranch, in complete confinement, or integrated with plantation and forest trees. The farm requires a number of animal stock, a big space and a big capital.

3. Growing-Fattening Operation

This is the most popular type of cattle raising in the Philippines. It requires simple facilities and level of management. The lifespan of operation is shorter and the return of investment is relatively higher.

Growing cattle can be raised through grazing or cut-and-carry feeding. Thus, it needs little capital so it can be managed by smallhold cattle raisers.

On the other hand, the fattening or finishing stage is usually done intensively or in confinement. The animals are kept within an area so that the feeds given to them are utilized to develop their tissues.


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:

  • Brahman – color is gray, some are reddish. This breed is resistant to diseases and can withstand heat better.
  • Ongle or Nellore – color is white. The bulls may have dark gray head, neck and hump. Knees may be black.
  • Indu-Brazil – colors vary from light to silver gray and brownish dark gray to red.
  • Batangas Cattle – this is not really 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.


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