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Is Fattening Beef Cattle Good Business? 

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For most cattle keepers, keeping cattle involves waiting through many years to earn something from their investments. For example, the average cow takes 5 years to maturity and this is after a period of investment.

And yet, for those interested in selling cattle for beef, buying young bulls, fattening them and then selling them off after between 3-6months is good business.

Depending on the season, you can buy mature cows of 2-3 years at as low as sh400,000 in the cattle corridor, feed them intensively for 3- months and then sell them off for beef at more than twice the purchase amount. For example, in places like Ngoma, Kyankwanzi, Kiboga, Teso, Mubende and Ssembabule that are affected by drought during periods of the year, prices of cattle drop as farmers sell off excess stock in order to reduce the pressure on the pastures and water.

Good businessmen buy these, feed them well to fatten then sell them off. A beef cattle bought at sh400,000 can be sold at sh800,000 after just 3-5months.

The cost of keeping the animal through this period is between sh100,000 to sh150,000, which gives a profit of between sh250,000 to sh300,000 per cow. But to do this, you should have some land where you can keep them.

About 50 acres of land can sustain 50 to 60 fattening cattle at any one time. Since these cattle stay on the farm for 3-4 months, then the cycle produces as many as 100 or slightly more per year.

Of these 50 acres, make sure that 10 acres are planted with grasses like napier and brachiaria before the cattle are delivered. Under intensive zero grazing practices, an acre of planted pasture can feed 1 cow and a heifer for a year.

However, since fattening is carried out under a semi-intensive practice, where the cattle are openly grazed, but also fed on the more nutritious grasses, the same acre of planted pasture can feed at least 8-10 fattening cows per year depending on the period of 3-4 months that they stay on the farm.

Feedintensely, with grasses like napier, brachiaria, lab-lab plus open grazing for 90-120 days.  Experience show that with intensive feeding, coupled with good clean water all the time, feed to weight conversion is fast and the cattle will increase weight by nearly half, depending on the condition that you acquired it in. You can then move and sell it off.  

Cost of setting up pastures 

There are two ways of propagating seedlings for brachiaria. You can get just two sacks 100kg sacks of the mature rooted grass and plant it in an area of around a quarter of an acre. Each sack costs sh20,000. This grass after four months will be able to give you enough seeds to expand your grass area, even if it means planting on 10acres of land.

Likewise, for napier grass, you can buy a sack of cuttings, plant it and after 4-6 months, it should be able to provide you with enough more cuttings to expand the shamba.

Grasses can be got from NARO-Namulonge, Kamenyamigo in Masaka, NARO-Ngetta, NARO-Mbarara.

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