Farmbiz: the big leagues of cattle breeding

By Kudakwashe Gwabanayi

Just for today, anyone with a cow will be a breeder.

So whether you have two cattle for subsistence farming or you have 100 for herding, you are a rancher.

Raising cattle has belonged to mankind since time immemorial.

The fact that cattle have succeeded in maintaining their value in communities as a sign of wealth and cross-cutting through various economic periods is a clear sign that they are indispensable in contemporary societies.

Subsistence cattle

Not only do cattle provide food and milk, they are also used as a pulling force to pull carts and ox plows.

In rural areas, cattle are also an acceptable form of payment.

One can pay for his lobola (bride’s price) using cattle.

They can be inherited.

If someone commits a crime, traditional leaders can ask them to pay compensation per cow, depending on the offense.

Even in the spiritual realm, cattle play a special role when it comes to rituals, sacrifices, symbolism and even food. Traditionalist religious groups also use cattle as a form of sacrifice depending on what they ask of the Creator. Cattle are also used for calming the spirits, especially avengers.

Those who did not have livestock were often considered poor.

In other words, one way or another, we all need to have cattle. At least five.

Migration from the countryside to the cities has failed to extinguish the desire for livestock of many Zimbabweans, as they still keep track of any cattle offspring they may have left behind.

No one keeps records of the offspring of their dogs and chickens, but even those who went into the diaspora ten years ago have a clear lineage of kraal cattle.

Commercial breeding

While almost everyone assumes they are farmers, commercial cattle farming still distinguishes the suitors and the real deal. There are breeders who;

Keep cattle for the beef

It is the big league of agriculture in Zimbabwe. It is capital intensive and requires a lot of patience. However, many well-to-do businessmen easily get involved in this adventure, as do the government, non-governmental organizations, businesses and foreigners. A joint US $ 48 million cash injection by private investors from Rwanda, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates revives the beef industry, which also benefited in 2018 from a $ 130 investment partnership agreement. million US dollars between the state-owned Zimbabwe beef processor, CSC. , formerly the Cold Storage Commission, which is Zimbabwe’s main beef processing agency, and UK-based Boustead Beef, an international beef processor. The National Social Security Authority has also pledged to invest $ 18 million in the CSC. Innovative breeding technologies, including artificial insemination, have been successfully used on a new breed of beef bulls and heifers, reaping big profits in the global beef market.

At this point, large commercial and rural farmers are once again dreaming of the glory days of the 90s, when Zimbabwe’s beef industry was the envy of its southern African neighbors.

Keeping livestock for milk production

The practice of keeping livestock for milk production is known as dairy farming. In Zimbabwe, it has become the preserve of the elite who can afford modern technologies to provide quality milk. In addition, most dairy farmers give their livestock complementary feeds so that they can produce more milk. Although the country fails to meet the national demand of 180 million kg per year, managing only a third, investors like Kefalos are keen to develop the sector. The deficit was filled with imports from South Africa and Zambia and substitutes. Dairy products like yogurt from Zimbabwe have often been exported to overseas countries where they have found favor over time. The predominant dairy cattle breeds are the Holstein-Frisians, followed by Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey, Redpoll, Simmental and Red Dane. The dairy industry in Zimbabwe is boosted by the increased consumption of dairy products and focuses on high protein foods. Where a high animal mortality rate and poor genetic makeup of dairy herds leading to low volumes of milk are the main constraints. Due to the escalating costs of commercial feed, there has been a recent trend towards farm-grown foods.

Keeping livestock for breeding

For many, raising cattle has been the preserve of predominantly commercial white farmers, and one of the most common breeds in Zimbabwe is the Brahman, an American breed. It was bred in the United States from 1885 from cattle originating in India, but imported from the United Kingdom and Brazil.

There is also the Ngubra, a beef cattle breed from the pure Nguni and Brahman breeds.

Nguni cattle are a subtype of African Sanga cattle associated with the pastoral cattle culture of the Bantu of Africa.

What is certain is that they have been shaped by natural selection in the African environment for thousands of years.

On the other hand, Brahmins are intelligent, curious and shy. The breed is medium in size with a tendency to mature later, so carcasses of young animals tend to be lean.

Brahman is suitable for crossbreeding, giving excellent hybrid vigor to the offspring.

A good breed can sell for as low as US $ 3,000 in the market while some can sell for up to US $ 20,000, making cattle breeding a lucrative business.

There are also other breeds like Hereford which are native to England. They are especially appreciated in the south of the country for their early maturity and their capacity for fattening. Dark red to yellow-red in color with a white face, the Herefords are known for their longevity and for being docile, easy to calve, good milkmaids and good mothers.

There are also the Stud, Red and Gray breeds among others. Depending on his business advantages, a farmer can always have any breed of his choice.

Fattening pen

It’s modern day commodity brokerage if you can call it. As the rains approach, many cattle will suffer from various diseases in January. Cattle owners will also suffer from the January disease themselves and will therefore be forced to sell their cattle at a lower price.

Buyers will buy medium sized and mostly sick cattle, put them in pens, feed them and treat them for any disease for 90 days to gain weight before putting them on the market for a profit margin of 300 %. However, there are more serious commercial buyers who focus on the right breeds that perform well in a short period of time. These include Angus, Sussex, Hereford, Charolais and Limousine.

The key to this business is to buy the right type of animal (breed, size, weight, age, sex) at the right price and at the right time (season)

Having said that, it is safe to say that there is a great opportunity to make money in the beef industry in Zimbabwe. You just need to position yourself where they feel they will be able to excel.

  • Gwabanayi is a working journalist and farmer in his own right. – 0772 865 703 or [email protected]

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