How to double your profits in Beef farming

beef farming in kenya

Are you a herder or rancher looking to increase your cattle farm profits? You can double your earnings through finishing and fattening of beef cattle.

 Kenya faces an acute shortage of beef meat each year according to a 2019 study. It is supplied by imports of live cows from Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia.  Finishing and fattening can make you sustainable profits by tapping into this demand.  In this post, learn all you need to know about this modern beef farming method. You will learn about

What is beef cattle fattening and Finishing?

In the past, raising cows used to be running big gras fed beef farms or cow ranching. Todays’ challenges like climate change and the rising cost of cow feed require modern solutions of raising and selling cows. They include raising premium beef cattle in a small farm like the Wagyu cows, cattle fattening, finishing and value addition. In our opinion, finishing and fattening is one of the most sustainable meat farming method.

Beef cattle finishing involves intensive feeding of 2 – 3 years old beef cows with a protein balanced, high energy diet for 90 days under confinement.  The aim of fattening is to increase the live weight and improve the quality of beef. As a farmer you will get better meat grades at the abattoir and therefore a premium corresponding selling price and profit.

On the other hand, Beef fattening is for 4 years old plus cattle. They are confined in like zero grazing units and fed on protein rich and high energy cow feed. The minimal activities help animals to fatten quicker and can yield more meat.

Why finishing and fattening

What are benefits of finishing and fattening? As outlined, these sustainable meat farming methods yield more meat and profits for cattle farmers. It makes it one of the best agribusiness opportunities if you are looking for employment and income generation.  Finally, beef cattle finishing, and fattening will help you to produce quality meat that market wants. These include the organic, wagyu beef and grain fed meat carcasses.

On the downside, finishing and fattening has following disadvantages.

  • Need to purchase or lease additional land for forage finishing.
  • Expensive to produce or make your own cow feed if you consider intensive grain-fattening.
  • It is costly to provide veterinary care for finishing cattle.
  • Finishing and fattening require additional labour compared to free range cattle herding.

How to start in finishing and fattening business

Unlike other livestock farming methods, its easier to venture in this agribusiness opportunity. The easiest method is to set a mini ranch where cattle graze on natural pastures. You can supply supplementary cow feed like hay during dry periods. This extensive fattening method is common in high beef production areas like Laikipia, Kajiado and Taita Taveta counties.

To start, you need to make decisions on cow breeds, fattening period, and finally the cost of feed. Other choices are herd size, market prices and farm management costs.

The most profitable cattle for meat farming are the Boran, Simmental and Wagyu cross breeds. Others are the Aberdeen angus and other traditional breeds. You can source the steers from your own herd or buy from a high-quality rancher or breeder. If you decide to start by buying, look for genetic breeds that are free of diseases. Besides cattle, you can add other high value livestock like Dorper sheep and goats.

Cow feed prices are among the highest management cost in this business. Apart from feeding them natural grasses, you can prepare on farm feeds using cottonseed cake was the most common source of protein, which was mixed with wheat, barley, Lucerne, Boma Rhodes grass, maize bran, hay, and molasses.

The period the animals spend on the feedlot is determined by various factors. Cows fetch the highest revenue when they can weigh 500-600kgs. For goats, the optimal weight is 60 kg whereas for lambs is 45 kg.  To determine the period, get the difference between the live weight when animals are bought from the expected weight. Divide this by the average daily gain weight when animals are fed intensively.  

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