Home Animal Husbandry Constraints of Beef Cattle Production in Africa

Constraints of Beef Cattle Production in Africa

by Kenya Farmers

The major constraints for cattle production in African farmers is feed shortage, diseases and parasites, drought, shortage of grazing land, market access, veterinary services, extension services and other infrastructure.
Among those constraints inadequate supply of quality feed, drought, diseases and parasites are the main reasons for low productivity of the indigenous cattle breeds and are the major factors limiting cattle productivity in Africa.

Shortage of grazing land

Grazing on natural pasture is the most common practice for all species of animals in Africa in general. The grazing
area is shrinking from year to year. Bush encroachment is one of the key problems. Over grazing is a common feature in the grazing areas and depletion of topsoil has become apparent.

Shortage of capital

According to recent research finding shortage of capital is the first constraint to cattle fattening in Africa.
Credit provision is a crucial problem to animal fatteners in the Africa as the undertaking requires at least an investment of no less than USD 20,000 which might be hard to come by. Sources of financing, generally involving subsidized, low interest credit; tend not to allow small holders to borrow money unless they are organized in groups or through cooperative arrangements. Also, lack of initial capital is the first ranked constraints whereas lack of credit provision is the main challenges in most of Africa.
Smallholder farmers need support of working capital if they are to be engaged in cattle fattening investment program. Farmers who are willing to involve in beef cattle fattening program are not able to purchase animals due to lack of capital. Microfinance institutions need to review their lending programs to ensure farmers interested in livestock enterprises benefit from their services. Formation of farmers’ cooperatives could also be one strategy to pool resources together to have a better voice in accessing credit and such an option need to be explored in the future.

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Weak extension service

Cattle fattening is based on grazing on natural pasture and crop residues and as such intensive cattle fattening is not practiced in most parts of Africa. The best way to help farmers understand and accept new concepts is to demonstrate to them on small scale in their own environment. Farmers in most parts of Africa do not practice improved fattening due to lack of knowledge. Since feed scarcity is also the main problem, stronger extension services and trainings on forage production (especially backyard forage production) is vital. Extension activities should focus on feed resource management such as communal and private grazing land improvements (clearing unpalatable species and weeds, rotational grazing and fodder conservation system (haymaking), irrigation and over sowing of the improved forage species. Training of farmers on feeding regimes and marketing information through extension is vital for beef cattle fatting development program in Africa

Feed shortage

The main available feed resources for meat production in Africa are the communal uncontrolled free and private grazing lands but these feed resources are managed in a traditional ways that means all the species of the livestock are allocated to graze these grazing lands together which further was causing overgrazing problems. During rainy times, the pastures become muddy and the animals could not be kept on such pastures especially in the plains. During the dry season crop residues are also among the main feed resources in the study area. In most African regions the conversion of grazing lands in to crop production seems the main reason for scarcity of feed resources.

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Water shortage

At dry period there are water shortage problem with poor water quality which results water borne diseases for beef cattle. Some of the indications are that there is water scarcity both from the wells, seasonal rivers, and ponds mainly during the dry periods.

Health problem

Efficient and reliable animal health services constitute an essential prerequisite to livestock development in African livestock ventures. Most of the farmers use both the government (modern) and traditional medications they use for their beef cattle treatment. The others use private veterinarians and NGO’s services.

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