Cattle farming in Nigeria is capital intensive, it involves huge capital to start and its management very expensive. Cattle farming in Nigeria although very expensive to set up and maintain is profitable and very lucrative agricultural business, if you know your markets very well.
You worry less about diseases because cattle by nature are strong resistant livestock. The feed mainly grasses and have no trouble grazing. However, one should be aware of predators like snakes etc. That can poison and kill the cattle while grazing in an open field.
Cattle are of more economic importance apart from just producing meat. Cattle also produce milk, its blood and bone meal can be used as fertilizers and also feeds for livestock, the faeces (dung) can be used as manure etc. cattle are of different breeds they are; Azawal, sokoto gudali, wadara, white Fulani, Ndama, kekeku, kuri, Brown swiss, Holstein, jersey etc.
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Cattle are ruminants that have hollow horns and hoofs with an even number of toes. They are mainly reared for their meat, milk, hide and skin, manure and as draught animals to work on the farm.
Cattle breeds can be categorized into three major groups, which are;
Beef cattle: They are mainly reared to produce meat
Dairy cattle: They are mainly reared to produce milk
Dual purpose Cattle: They are capable of producing meat and milk
Common terms used in cattle
Bull – An adult male cattle
Cow – An adult female cattle
Calf – A young or baby cattle
Heifer – A growing female cattle
Vealer – A castrated female cattle
Ox – A castrated male cattle
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Economic importance of Cattle farming in Nigeria
- They provide meat and milk
- They can be used to pull plough for our farms
- They provide hide and skin
- They provide blood meal and bone meal for feeds for our farm animals
- Source of employment and income to people
- The dung is a very good source of manure
- Source of revenue to some countries
- Fertilizers can be gotten from blood, bones, and offal of cattle
Factors to consider in cattle farming in Nigeria
The host factors one needs to considering before starting a cattle farm, they include;
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Management of cattle; The management of cattle is very important. There are three major ways of cattle management from breeding to market size
- Breeding to calving (birth); Breeders (bulls, heifer or cow) are housed in breeder houses that are made of raised walls, concrete floors and galvanized roofing sheets. Bulls and heifers should be at least 24 months old before the breed. The bull is brought to serve the cow or mate with it when on the heat. The gestation period for cattle is about 283 days.
- Birth of calf to weaning; As soon as the calf is born, the mucous membrane should be wiped off from the nostril to facilitate normal breathing of the calf. The cord from the navel should be allowed to break on its own. The calf should be helped to take milk from the teat of the cow, this is called colostrum. Another cattle management is castration of the bull calf. It helps control indiscriminate mating.
- Weaning to Finishing; Place the calf on a special diet of high concentrates and low roughages with restricted movement within the building. This increase the size of the calf.
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The system of cattle; one must also consider the system to employ. There are three major systems of rearing cattle
- Extensive System: Under this system cattle are allowed to move freely from one place to another in search of pastures for grazing. Here the cattle’s fend for themselves and graze on a wide range of pastures. There is no special housing unit provided.
- Semi-intensive system: Under this system, housing is provided for the cattle and they are also allowed to move out and graze on pasture. Animals spend more time outside than in their pens.
- Intensive system: Under this system, the cattle’s are confined within a building with limited access to grazing. Grasses, water, medications are supplied daily to the cattle.
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Feeding; The feed for cattle must contain a balanced diet for healthy growth and production. Cattle being ruminants feed mainly on rough ages (grasses and legumes) because of the nature of their stomach.
Health Care and sanitation; Good housing and feeding reduce the rate of disease attack on the cattle. The house should be cleaned regularly and sick animals should be isolated and treated
Other things to know about cattle farming in Nigeria
Common diseases of cattle; common disease of cattle include; foot and mouth disease, rinderpest disease, anthrax, tuberculosis, trypanosomiasis and red water fever. These diseases can be prevented by the use of appropriate drugs and vaccine.
Land Preparation: Plant grasses for grazing and kill all predators like snakes etc. This
Cattle Growth: A calf takes up to 2-3 years to be fully matured and a full healthy grown calf weighs about 450kg-550kg
Employ Assistants: Cattle farming on a large scale cannot be looked by one person alone, employ people to help in the management.
Always Visit a specialist: In the event of the cattle being sick, a veterinary doctor can help
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