Beef Cattle


Beef cattle are domesticated animals raised for meat production (as distinguished from dairy cattle, used for milk production). The meat of adult cattle is known as beef. There are three main stages in beef production: cow-calf operations, back grounding, and feed lot operations. When raised in a feed lot, cattle are known as feeder cattle. Many such feeder cattle are born in cow-calf operations specifically designed to produce beef calves.


Breeds  Angus, Beef master, Brahman, Devon, Shorthorn, Hallikar
Brooding Buy your cows and/or your herd bull. Buy quality cows that meet your standards, as far as having a good breeding herd is concerned. Also, your herd bull should be selected to improve your herd, as he will be providing half of the genetic potential of your calf crop. Fertility and live calves are key to profitability. One live calf is worth more than 100 dead ones. Beware of bulls that sires calves that are larger than the mother cow.Choose your breeding program. There are two types to choose from, and both can be integrated into the other, if you so choose. If your herd is too small to have a herd bull or you do not want to have to deal with bulls, use artificial insemination to breed your herd. If you have a herd of 10 or more cows and you do not want to go the extra mile of having to AI then, a good herd bull is the way to go. The rule of thumb is 1 bull per 25 cows. High fertility bulls with high libido can service 50 cows with no drop in conception rates. Bulls reach peak fertility by 20 months of age, after 20 months of age it can only drop, barring illness or injury. With proper nutrition most bulls fertility will not start to decline until after 6-7 years of age.Breed your cattle. You need to know when your cows go into estrus; when they’re ready to breed. If you are using a herd bull, you will not need to worry about when your cows go into heat.
Calf rearing A new born calf will typically weigh between 40 to 50kg. Achieving an early and adequate intake of colostrum (the first milk produced by the calf’s mother following calving) is the single most important management factor in determining calf health and performance. Colostrum is rich in energy and protein but more importantly, with immunoglobulins (antibodies which provide the calf with passive immunity). The priority with new born calves is ensuring that they suckle and drink at least 2 litres of colostrum within the first six hours of life, with up to 8 litres within the first 24 hours. In traditional beef systems the calf will stay with the beef cow for around 8-10 months before it is weaned and transferred for fattening. During this time the cow and calf will normally be grazing outside, either on grass or on a forage crop like kale. Hay and silage will be supplemented as required. In cold months when conditions worsen the animals may be brought in to large open barns and fed on conserved fodder, typically grass silage. Animals supplied for beef production from the beef herd tend to be borne of beef cows that suckle the calf for between 7 and 10 months. After weaning the calves are finished through a variety of feeding systems. Farmers who run suckler beef herds tend to finish their animals through more extensive feeding systems.
Feeds and feeding The most common feed hay and silage.
Husbandry Good beef cattle husbandry involves Feeding, castrating and dehorning cattle. Deworming is also very common to ensure the worms are well controlled. In some cases, weight to age ratio is observed to ensure that the cattle is growing on the right pace.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Anthrax Weakness, fever, difficulty  in breathing. Vaccination treated with penicillin
Foot and mouth Lameness, loss of appetite, rapid breathingblisters Clostridial vaccination
External parasites Scary Fur Spraying with pesticides
Internal parasites Loss in weight Demorming
 Equipments Feed Bunks- The main requirements for feed bunks are that they are practical, good quality, rugged, and economical. The bunk length and capacity should meet livestock requirements.Portable Hay Feeders- The portable feeder is a proven hay-saving design for supplementary hay feeding in a field, feedlot, or loose housing barn. The sloping spacers allow cattle of varying sizes to feed comfortably with their heads inside the feeder. This helps to reduce waste since cattle do not have to withdraw their heads to stand and chew.Water equipment – If you are grazing animals, you may want portable water tanks to reduce the impact of cattle in one location.


Housing You can house your beef cattle in an open boma or a closed barn. The most important thing is to ensure that their housing is dry and warm.
Grazing systems You can rear your beef cattle through Zero grazing or Field grazing. For those with big farms, field farming is ideal. It is also economical. For those with limited land, their only choice is zero grazing.
 Regions Beef farming is done extensively in arid and semi arid areas by pastoralists. Most of the beef farming is done in North eastern, parts of eastern, Rift Valley and western and partly in central Kenya.
Expected yields  A live cattle weighing about 450 kg will produce about 200kg of beef meat.


Processing Beef cattle are slaughtered to produce beef meat. Most of the meat is sold for culinary purposes. Apart from cutting, no other processing is done on meat.The hide is taken to tanneries for leather processing.


Place Beef is mostly sold locally in butcheries and retail outlets. Some part of it is exported mostly to middle east.
Price 1 kgs of Beef meat is retailing at around Kshs. 300


Products / Uses The most common products from beef cattle are Meat and leather. Manure is a by-product.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values The nutrition level of beef meat is: Total fat 30g 46%, saturated fat 11g 55%, polysaturated 0.7g, monosaturated 13g , trans fat 1.8g , cholesterol 78mg 2%, sodium 67mg 2% , potassium 218mg 6% , protein 14g 28%, calcium 2%, vitaminB12 15%, iron 8%, vitamin B-6 15%, magnesium 3%.


There are over 500 breeds of beef cattle in the world.
There are 5 different types of beef cattle farming: seedstock cow-calf, commercial cow-calf, back grounding/stocker, feedlot, and slaughter plants.Over 90% of beef cows and calves are managed by family farms and ranches
The main diet for beef cattle is grass, but many cattle that spend the last few months of their lives in feedlots are instead fed “cheaper” feed like grain.
The smallest beef breed is the Dexter, whereas the largest is the Chianina
Steers (castrated males) are mainly used for beef production, but heifers, cows and bulls are also slaughtered for beef.

A mature cow consumes about 5 tons of fibrous feed (forages) per year.

A cattle will weigh between 400 – 600kgs at the age of 18-24 months


1 Beef cattle rearing will cost around Kshs. 10,000.Income/Animal: 200kgs x Kshs 300 = Kshs. 60,000Expenses: Kshs 25,000 (5000kg of forage x Kshs 50) + Kshs 10,000 (Miscelaneous) totals to Kshs. 35000 per animal.

Income per animal: Kshs 25,000 per animal in 2 years. So its Kshs. 12,500 per animal per year.

One acres will hold 2 beef cattle at a time. If you sell 2 cattle per year, you will earn Kshs. 25000


Beef farming is commercially viable if done in large scale. Field grazing is the most economical mode but requires large land size.


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