“Farming is too risky and the running costs are expensive” “Its very difficult to make money.” “Its better to get an office job and forget about it.”
These are just a some of the sentiments young people in Kenya say when they think about farming. It is true, turning a profit in farming (especially horticulture) needs focus and depends upon a volatile cocktail of weather, market, hard work and luck; but there are some activities do quite well to beginner farmers. This is mean Beef farming (Fattening cattle as a business).
Beef farming/production works well with other agricultural enterprises like maize farming, vegetable, or other crop operations. Cattle can make efficient use of feed resources that have little alternative use, such as crop residues, marginal cropland, and land not suitable for tillage, or land that cannot produce crops other than grass.
For people who own land but work full-time off the farm, a beef enterprise can be the least labour-intensive way to utilize their land. A cattle enterprise can use family or surplus labour. Calving, weaning, vaccinations, castration, and weighing can be planned for times when labour is available.
Consider your resources, the land available, and your level of interest and capabilities before deciding to engage in the cattle business. Identify why you want to raise cattle and set goals to achieve the most constant economic return or personal satisfaction. Your goals must be clearly defined, firmly fixed, achievable, and have a realistic time frame. Otherwise, your operation will lack focus.
There are few types of small-scale cattle enterprises in Kenya:
- Growing and feeding systems–In these operations, calves or weaners
are either raised or purchased and then are fed (fattened for slaughter)
- Breeding herds–A breeding herd consists of cows and bulls that are used to produce calves for sale as breeding or feeder animals.
- Combinations of growing, feeding, and breeding herds
Success of your operation will entirely depend on adapting a strategy that fits your needs and capabilities.
Growing Beef Cattle
In a weaner operation, you acquire calves after weaning at 10 to 15 months of age. They can then be fed and marketed in less than a year from the time of purchase. Thus, the investment on each calf is returned within a comparatively short time. This type of operation may not require much land, but you will need adequate facilities to keep the animals comfortable and under control.
In a pasture-based enterprise, you buy weaned calves in early spring, put them onto pasture when the grass is at its best, and sell them when the pasture season is over. On the other hand, calves cost less in winter. Depending on the cost of winter feed, this may be the best time to buy cattle for the following pasture season.
Working with calves requires a good deal of patience, as they are easily excited and stressed. Discuss a health programme with your vet.
The way ranchers keep financial records varies, but the key is to use a system that provides the information you need to meet your responsibilities. The minimum set of financial records should include a balance sheet, a statement of
cash flow, and an income statement. There are several ways to keep accurate records. Hand-kept records are inexpensive and easy to store. On the other hand, this method may be slow and subject to errors. Retrieving information may be time consuming if extensive records are kept. Computerized record systems are available, from simple checkbook balancing systems to sophisticated, double-entry accrual programs. Computerized systems
for production records also are available in a range of features and reporting capabilities. Advantages include easy retrieval of information and reduced chance of mathematical errors. However, entering information takes time, and
entries must be posted properly. If you choose a computer system, it should meet the requirements and objectives of your individual operation.