To most farmers who are involved in livestock farming, beef cattle farming is the ultimate goal.
But just like in each and every other business, there are advantages and disadvantages.
Beef cattle farming is a long-term activity/project which requires financial inputs, while the return on investment is relatively low. Before venturing into beef production it is important to consider your location and the area where your farm is situated. Since about 69% of South Africa’s land is suitable for grazing, livestock makes up the majority of the agricultural sector.
However, South Africa’s climate and vegetation ranges are diverse and these factors influence whether beef cattle farming is viable or not in your area.
Cattle are generally farmed in the wetter Eastern parts of the country, however, depending on which breed and production system adopted, the farmer may need to put in additional costs and management to ensure success.
On the advantage side, a beef herd cattle is considered a ‘liquid bank’ and quick way to access cash when needed at short notice.
Cattle can also be used as draught power plough fields. It is also a source of manure as fertilizer for vegetable gardens and small grain fields.
Additionally, a large number of these animals is considered wealth.
On another good note, beef cattle are a very efficient method to utilize vast areas of veld land with seemingly useless value.
The grazing of veld or pasture by cattle is the most efficient way to convert low quality pastures to high quality product.
Products, cattle provide a good source of high quality essential protein and fat in the form of beef and milk.
On the disadvantage side, the initial Input cost could be the biggest limiting factor.
You also require proper facilities as cattle need to be handled from time to time for routine management tasks and in order for effective handling of cattle, well-designed facilities are essential.
These can be quite costly and must be set up before purchasing your cattle.
Also, the labour force required to manage a beef herd effectively is dependent on the specific production system: proportionally, a smaller labour force would be required for an extensive cow-calf production system than an intensive feedlot production system.
Lastly, Steer and OX production systems would require a large labour force as more production groups needs to be managed.
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