Ranching in Confinement is the New Trend

RANCHING does not have to involve the use of hundreds or thousands of hectares anymore. In the old days, the livestock experts recommended the raising of one head of cattle per hectare of pasture. Today, one can raise at least 10 large animals per hectare of land.

Just like what Alex Carlos and his son King are doing in their farms in Rosario, Batangas and in Magalang, Pampanga. In Rosario, they have about 230 large Brahmans growing very well in confinement. In Magalang, about 200 Brahmans are confined on two hectares but they are supplied with corn stover as their main forage in addition to concentrates.

Raising the animals in confinement has its own advantages. For one, the owner does not have to acquire a big area for his project whether it is rented from the government or bought at a high price from a private land owner. This means that even if the prospective rancher can’t get a lease for a big area from the government, he can manage to do his own ranching in a small area that he can afford to buy or rent.

Since the animals are confined in a small area, security is easier to provide. The project is more manageable. One can have a closer supervision of the animals so that their requirements could be readily provided whenever needed.

The King Ranch that Alex Carlos started in 2004 is something he loves because it suits his business activities. It provides a more leisurely pace than the other businesses he has been involved in for years. A certified public accountant, he has been in the trucking business with hundred vehicles, large scale fishpen operation and others. While he has somewhat slowed down in the trucking business, he still has other business involvements. He says that the ranch provides a welcome break from his other businesses.

Alex feels lucky because he was able to buy a 24-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, that is suitable for cattle farming. He started the ranch with an initial 30 commercial grade Brahmans which was increased to 70 in a short while and eventually to128. To sire his female breeders, he got purebred four Brahman bulls from the herd of Antonio Nocom who pioneered in importing pedigreed American Brahmans many years back.

When he visits his cattle project, he usually takes his children along. And that is how his son King, now 21 years old, fell in love also with cattle raising. And that is the reason why Alex has made him his ranch manager (of course with his active guidance). zacsarian.com

Of the 230 animals in Rosario, 148 are females. The rest are males of different ages. Of the 148 females, 98 have been regularly giving birth each year. In the coming years, more would be getting pregnant since they only sell the male yearlings, usually as breeders. About the same number of female breeders are maintained in Magalang. Last year, they sold about a hundred male yearlings costing P25,000 to P35,000 each. The buyers came from Isabela, Bicol and other places. The local government of Rosario bought 10 males last year for dispersal to the farmers. Another batch was also bought by Lipa, also for dispersal.

Some of the buyers raise the males as work animals. When these are finally retired or whenever the owner wants to convert the cattle into cash, they are fattened and sold for meat. A three-year-old male Brahman could weigh as much as 600 kilos, according to Alex. If sold for meat, the current price is P95 per kilo liveweight. Thus, the 600-kilo cattle would fetch P57,000.

NUTRITION VERY IMPORTANT – What’s good about cattle breeding, Alex says, is that if the female breeders are well managed, they will give birth every year. The 98 breeders in Rosario all gave birth last year. About the same number in Magalang also calved last year. But he stresses that proper nutrition is very important for the animals to perform well.

The animals are fed with concentrates and a lot of forage every day. In the morning, the animals are fed 6 kilos of concentrate per head. The concentrate consists of brewer’s spent grains or malt, black soya (the residue from soy sauce manufacture), copra, rice bran, molasses and limestone. After eating the concentrate, the the 230 animals in Batangas are given a truckload of napier weighing between 900 and 1,200 kilos. Later in the afternoon, the animals are once again given a truckload of napier. A total of 12 hectares are planted to napier where the workers harvest the daily ration of the animals.

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Besides napier, Alex says they are devoting 10 hectares to corn for feeding as green forage or for making silage. The green corn stalks are chopped and ensiled for two months. The silage is fed to the animals whenever there is a shortage of green feeds because it is not possible to harvest grass due to bad weather or for some other reasons.

In Magalang, the animals which are confined in a two-hectare feedlot are also given concentrate as in Batangas but the forage is different. Chopped corn stover is given to the animals. There is no shortage of corn stover because the project is situated right in the middle of a wide corn area.

Alex is currently finalizing plans to expand his cattle project. This time, he would like to go into dairy production. He thinks there is a very good prospect for fresh milk production because the market is right here in the Philippines. Only two percent of the current fresh milk  requirement in the country is produced locally.

The beauty about dairy production is that once the cows are lactating, there’s cash flow every day. The female calves could be retained as future milkers while the males could be raised for meat if they are not suitable for sale as breeders.

With the enthusiasm of Alex and his son King in ranching, it is not far-fetched to believe that they will also succeed in producing milk.

 

King Ranch, by the way, could be reached at: ark.carlos@yahoo.com. They would be happy to share their experiences to prospective commercial cattle farmers.

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