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close this bookBetter Farming Series 11- Cattle Breeding (FAO - INADES, 1977, 63 p.)
close this folderWhat cattle produce
View the documentMeat production
View the documentMilk production

Meat production

A farmer can sell animals every year, especially young bulls, oxen and old cows. These animals are sold for slaughter.

A farmer should sell fat animals. Then he will earn a lot of money. Young bulls, oxen and old cows that you want to sell should be well fed and looked after.

You will sell many fat animals if the herd has a good yield (see Booklet No. 9, page 29).

That is to say:

· If the animals are of a good breed.

The animal husbandry service is finding out which breeds produce most and thrive best in each region.

· If all the animals grow quickly.

On the same pasture, all the animals do not gain weight as quickly as each other.

You should keep only the calves of bulls and cows that have grown quickly.

· If there are many cows which calve each year.

You must sell the old cows: they do not produce calves, they do not gain weight any more and they eat a lot.

You must also sell the surplus bulls: they eat but are of no use.

You must keep the most fertile cows and make them breed. A fertile cow calves each year.


All cattle do not yield the same amount of meat.

For example:

Two cows each weigh 250 kilogrammes.

They are slaughtered.

The blood, skin, hoofs, head and everything in the belly are removed.

What remains is called the carcass, that is, the meat with the bones.

Now let us weigh the carcass of each cow. One weighs 115 kg; the other weighs 134 kg.

So the carcass of one cow weighs 19 kg more than the other: the yield in meat of the two cows is different. All cows do not give the same amount of meat.

The meat yield of cattle is the relation of the carcass weight to the weight of the live animal. If a cow weighs 250 kg and if the carcass weighs 115 kg, the yield is: 115 x 100/250= 46%
If a cow weighs 250 kg and if the carcass weighs 134 kg, the yield is: 134 x 100/250 = 54%
If an ox weighs 350 kg and if the carcass weighs 180 kg, the yield is: 180 x 100/350 = 51 %

The meat yield of cattle is about 50 %, that is, the weight of the carcass is about half the weight of the live animal.

All cattle do not give the same quality of meat.

The meat of an old thin cow does not fetch such a high price as the meat of a young, fat bullock, because it is not of such good quality. The meat of a young fat bullock is of very good quality.

So all cattle are not worth the same price.

The price changes with the amount of meat and with the quality of meat.

For example, in some places a thin cow is worth about 7 500 francs, but a fat cow of the same age is worth about 15 000 francs.

It is better to make 30 000 francs with two cows of 15 000 francs each, than 22 500 francs with three cows of 7 500 francs each.

You can earn more by selling fewer animals, if each animal is sold at a very high price.

Milk production

Milk is formed in the cow's udder.

The milk comes out through the teats.

Squeezing the teat makes the milk come out.

The milk is produced by the blood that circulates in each quarter of the udder.

If plenty of blood circulates in the udder, plenty of milk is produced.

Emptying the cow's udder of milk may take 5 to 10 minutes.

The cow's udder

For good milking, the cow must be calm; if you strike her or she is frightened, she will not let herself be milked easily.

Make sure you always empty the udder. If all the milk is taken away the udder can develop. A well developed udder can give more milk. Often a cow gives more milk after her third calving than after the first.

Milking must be done every day at the same time, for example, in the morning, before going to the pasture. The cow gets into the habit of giving her milk at the same time every day.

A cow with large blood vessels can have a lot of milk.

Milk production changes greatly according to:

· breed

Some breeds yield more milk than others.

· health

Cows that are ill give little milk.

· age

At the first calving, cows have little milk; afterwards they produce more. When they are old, production is less.

· time of calving

If the cow calves in the rainy season, when there is plenty of good grass, she gives a lot of milk.

· feeding A well fed cow gives more milk than a badly fed cow. A cow in milk needs a feed supplement and plenty of water.

Use of milk

· Milk is food for calves.

To grow, a calf needs to drink a lot of milk.

If you milk the cow there is not enough for the calf, and the calf cannot gain weight; it will be less resistant to diseases. Many calves die because they lack milk.

When the calf has finished drinking you can milk the cow if there is any milk left in the udder. You can also milk the cow after some months, when the calf has begun to eat grass and feed supplements.

· Milk is food for people.

Cow's milk is very good for both children and adults.