Zebu Cattle

ZEBU CATTLE IN NIGERIA 6

Author’s

Zebu cattle originated from Asia where 75 species exists. Today halfof the species is found in Africa and the other half in Asia. Theyare the smallest of all cattle breeds and thus well adapted to thrivein tropical climates (Troxel, 2011). Often, they have loose skin,large ears, are horned, have a hump above their shoulders and thecolour is either red or grey. The common type found in Nigeria is theWhite Fulani zebu cattle.

Steps

  • Proper housing facilities are essential and therefore should be established to protect the cattle from extreme sunlight, heat, rain as well as wind. Feeding facilities like grain and hay feeder are important and the feeding spacing should be adequate to accommodate the cattle (Troxel, 2011).

  • Natural grazing is done to the cattle but during very hot season when pasture has decrease, they are supplemented with hay.

  • Breeding period varies. Sexually mature heifer is in late spring or early summer and the calves are born the following spring meaning that it takes duration of almost a year for the new calve to be born (Troxel, 2011).

  • The bulls are placed together with the cows for a period of 6-12 weeks starting in the late spring. They cows conceive in 3-4 months after the introduction of the bull though there are cases when others don’t conceive and thus it is recommenced to check for pregnancy from time to time.

  • Those which did not conceive are separated from the herd and fed throughout the entire winter then mate the next spring which is often cost effective to the farmer.

  • After calving, the cows are collected in one place and close supervision is paid to them as they calve. The calves remain with their mother throughout grazing season and are weaned 6-8 months in the late falls after which they are separated from the dams (Troxel, 2011).

  • They are supplemented with pasture and forage and given sufficient energy, protein and other important trace factors to boost their immune other than grazing alone.

  • Health programs are important to control pests and disease. The calves are therefore de-wormed after every three months.

  • The heifer reaches maturity after one and half year while the bull starts reproducing after two years.

Nutrition value and health benefits

Zebu cattle are highly tolerant to pest and diseases reason theythrive well in tropical climate. They require little vetinaryservices thus are cost effective to the farmer. They are importantsupplement of proteins through the production of milk, meet and bloodessential for proper growth. They feed mainly on foliage and fiberswhich boosts their digestion system. It is recommended that maturecows be supplied with enough nutrition to gain weight in their latepregnancy period (Troxel, 2011). They should be energetic enough atcalving which in turn have an impact in their ability to breed. Bullsneed also high nutritious feed during production time to ensureadequate sperm production.

Economic values and market opportunities

Zebu cattle ranching are second to arable farming in Nigeria. Theactivity offers employment opportunities to majority of citizens whowork as cattle traders, rearers, drovers, transporters and butchers(Troxel, 2011). In addition to this, the country has an opportunityto increase its cattle production as there is increased demand in themarket as a result of increased preference for meat, the bigpopulation offers good price to the beef, there are better health andnutrition education programs offered free of charge, there is higheconomic growth rate and finally there is good per capita income forthe people.

Business profitability

The sector has led to the growth of licensed butcheries which paystax. This is a source of revenue to the government. There has been animprovement of infrastructure thus transportation of meat and livecattle to market places has been enhanced. The sectors have alsofacilitated growth of education and research centers where propertraining is offered to farmers (Troxel, 2011).

Tips for successful business

For any business to be successful, it is important to set realisticgoals of what you want achieve. Have knowledge on the people andresources available and gauge whether they can provide adequateopportunity for achieving the goals. It is important to haveadditional resources in place to avoid shortages. For cattle farming,get healthy heifers and cows for breeding and always arrange forclean-up services for bulls. Pasture and breeding groups should beproperly organized and it is recommended to carefully select the cowsto mate. Alternative semen from AI crew should be available in case acow cannot conceive through the bull. It is beneficial to check cowsfor pregnancy to be sure that it conceived instead of just weight fordelivering time. Moving breeds to paddocks will increase theefficiencies to which the animal feed and is also easy to monitortheir behaviours while grazing and calving (Troxel, 2011). Checkevery day for estrous and libido for bulls through introducing themto natural service. To conclude, it is important to vaccinate calvesand control pest. The old bulls and heifers should be sold and youngone retained to increase productivity.

Capital layout.

Zebu cattle farming is moderate farming business as the cattle mostof the time feed on natural pasture though are supplemented with hayduring dry seasons. For a starter, the likely capital is approximatedto be:

ITEM

COST IN $

LAND

1500

VERTINALY

20

LABOUR

250

FEED

100

FENCE

50

TOTAL

1920

Reference

Troxel, T.R. 2011. “Real-life Implementation of Controlled BreedingSeason.” In&nbsp2011 Florida Beef Cattle Short Course,47-52. Gainesville: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.