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.
Proper housing is important in successful cattle fattening operation. Adequately protect animals against the adverse effects of weather when they are raised in relatively small areas. Animals in backyard cattle farms are usually tethered along roadsides and in backyards during the day and confined in a shed or corral at night.
The permanent type of housing consisting of GI roofing, timber frames, concrete floor, feed trough and water troughs are used in most farms. The shelter is open-sided and is located near the farmer’s house or under the shade trees. Building height ranges from 1.7 to 1.9 meters while the width varies from 2.1 to 2.7 meters. Each animal can be allocated with 1.5 to 4.5 sq. meters. The plan of the cattle shed is presented below.
source: www.gov.ph, photo from article.wn.com