Dairy and beef cattle production is certainly a daunting undertaking, especially for beginners, perhaps the reason many people opt for dairy farming, which they consider easy as they can readily learn from other farmers.
But just as in dairy, beef cattle production requires good knowledge and expertise.
The animal breeding technology is mainly using the traditional method but agricultural scientists specialised in livestock breeding are now sensitising farmers to use the improved methods and embracing best practices for increased productivity.
One such initiative is by experts from the National Animal Genetic Resources and Data Bank Aswa Ranch in Pader District who are breeding both local and exotic breeds.
Seeds of Gold caught up with Alex Tumuhimbise a technician working at the ranch and he shares information about good management practices which his team embraced to revamp the breeding activities at the ranch.
Tumuhimbise explains that his team is able to breed local species which are dual purpose for milk and beef production namely Ankole long horned cattle, the East African short horned Zebu and Nganda.
It is the biggest dairy breed characterised to be producing the highest amount of milk with the lowest butter content. It is the most delicate with black and white patch in the face and a white end at the tail.
It is the smallest dairy breed, brown in colour or with stripes of black. It gives the least amount of milk among the dairy cows containing the highest butter content
It is brown in colour with white patches. It is a big animal like a Friesian but eats less.
It is grey in colour and very hostile. They grow very fast and can weigh up to 300 kilogrammes at the age of 18 months.
The team has been carrying out cross breeding of local species with exotic ones in order to improve the health status since the local breeds have the capacity to resist diseases more than the exotic ones. Once the animals are crossbred, the commercial value will go high.
Its growth period will shorten to 2- 3 years ready for mounting. For a cow, the lactation rate will be high and it is advisable for farmers to milk the cow three times a day
Exotic breeds grow faster and in 15 months they go on heat ready for mounting. Usually the Boran breed will weigh 860 kilogrammes in growth period of four years and a farmer will be able to sell it at Shs5m.
The team has bred one such breed of Boran and Braham breed of American origin which is weighing 900 kilogrammes in growth period of seven years. It can now be sold at Shs7m.
The scientists do process semen from both the local and exotic breeds to carry out artificial insemination for cross breeding. Farmers access this service at a fee.
Feeds and nutrition
According to Tumuhimbise all animals obtain the following nutrients from feeds; proteins for growth, maintenance and energy, carbohydrates and fat for energy, Vitamins; for building the defensive mechanism against diseases, minerals for vital metabolic processes in body and skeleton, roughage for good digestion and water for cooling body and functions of cells.
This will enable fast growth and high milk production. Free-range grazing is highly encouraged though supplementary feeds are also important.
Supplementary feeds can be homemade or commercially obtained from feed dealers.
East Cost Fever
This is one of the major disease that attacks cattle. The signs include loss of appetite, high body temperature, lowering of head, swelling of the lymph nodes specially those below the ear, standing hair and general body weakness, not active, difficult breathing and sometimes coughing.
“You can use ox tetracycline, butalex and parvexion to treat this disease,” says the agronomist.
This disease leads is characterised by animals moving the opposite direction from the rest, then in circles with bent neck. Upon death, post-mortem shows a heavy heart and fluid around the heart. Farmers are advised to apply sulfadimidine as treatment.
The symptoms of animals infested with Anaplasmosis indicate loss of appetite, high body temperature and constipation. The cow dung will appear such as the goat droppings. This disease will also lead to the swelling of the lymph nodes and high fever. Famers are advised to use Ox tetracycline for treatment.
This disease is characterised by loss of appetite, high body temperature, and bloody urine. Farmers are advised to treat it with berenil and veriben for treating. All the above are tick bone diseases.
It is caused by tsetse flies and it leads to loss of weight but with good appetite because the animals will keep eating till the last hour.
Farmers are advised to use berenil, veriben, novidium, ethidium, veridium, samorin and diminasan for treating.
All the above can be controlled by regular use of acaricides to kill ticks and farmers are advised to buy the acaricide from reputable drug shops.
Foot and mouth
It is a viral disease and the symptoms include loss of appetite, salivation, high body temperature, vesicle wounds in the mouth, tongue, throat and hooves, poor gait and limping. There is no drug but nursing of wounds is advisable as well as vaccinating.
This leads to swollen painful udder, high body temperature, bloody spots in the milk, sometimes pus may come out of the teats
This can be controlled by using clean milking utensils, washing hands before milking and washing the udder before milking. Farmers are advised to treat this disease with intramammary infusion.
Other disease include Contagious Bovine Pleural Pneumonia (CBPP), brucellosis and lumpy skin.