The Philippine beef cattle industry is predominantly of the smallhold or backyard type and traditionally led by the private sector Commercial feedlot fattening operation emerged and proliferated on account of the huge demand for meat and meat products. It is recognized as contributing to rural income and the efficient use of the available resources in the rural sector. Cattle as well as carabao are basic livestock occupying important role in the subsistence of rural families. They are raised for both purposes and source of cash in time of needs.
Three things accounted for this great demand–the ever increasing human population, changing eating habits of the Filipinos and import liberalization. It is however, heavily dependent on the importation of feeder stocks coming mostly from Australia. From 1990 to 1999, feeder cattle importation totaled to 1,290,633 head as against that of breeder cattle importation of only 54,560 head.
Cattle raising in the country is predominantly a backyard endeavor. They are usually maintained on a low to medium plane of nutrition. The are either stall-fed or tethered along roadsides and backyards with whatever available feed grown, not weeds and farm by-products like straw or corn stover, cane tops, etc. Concentrate feeding is minimal and inputs for health maintenance are generally lacking.
If has been evaluated, however, that beef cattle raising in the country has a comparative advantage over other animal production ventures considering the increasing demand for beef; ability to transform low-quality and fibrous feed materials; availability of other forages and favorable climate for fodder production and adequate processing technologies and increased productivity.
On the other hand, commercial ranches engaged in cattle raising are steadily decreasing in number. This is largely due to a combination of factors such as poor peace and order situation in production areas, implementation of the comprehensive agrarian reform law, land use conversion, lack of domestic source of quality stock, changing policies on pasture lease, increasing input costs and poor herd and pasture management among others. This scenario shrank the country’s cow-calf operations both in number and production performance.
Nevertheless current trends in the livestock industry show that the beef cattle sector has the biggest room for growth. The volume of production has been increasing from 232.34 (‘000 t) in 1996 to 271.24 (‘000 t) in 1999. The total output in 1999 was valued at P5.3 B. (October 2000)