1) As a Cattle Post Producer your
management style is different to that of
a fenced operation and one has to think
2) One has to use which breed you love in
your heart and NOT which breed your
friends have told you to use
3) Most importantly, one then has to decide
whether or not your first choice breed
suits the ecological situation of your
4) Whether or not your selected breed
can fit the type of beef production you
want to do. Remember not all breeds are
suited to weaner production and most
certainly not all breeds are suited to
extensive ranching conditions
5) The rancher may in fact end up utilising
his second or third choice breed in order
to be able to produce or fit into the
desired production system.
Owing to the climatic factors, Botswana is
suited to extensive beef production, with the
final finishing phase either in intensive feedlot
or finishing off the grass (back-grounding to
the fullest extent). The different production
systems are: -
a) Weaner production selling the
weaned calf onto another producer.
Here the important factor is to
produce the heaviest weaner
possible at 205 days (7months).
b) Yearling or tollie production selling
animals when they are about 15
months. Must have good weight
c) Steer production selling males
when they are about 24 to 30
months old straight to slaughter
d) Oxen production selling males
when they are over 40 months,
straight to slaughter.
e) Bull production this is using
registered pedigree / purebred cattle
to produce bulls for the commercial
cattleman to buy and utilise in their
All animals are firstly classified by Genotype
(by genes), and then phenotype, (by looks
and breed standard). There are TWO main
Genotypes and these are: -
a) INDICUS or humped breeds i.e.
Afrikaner, Brahman and Boran
b) TAURUS or breeds with no hump i.e.
Angus, Sussex, Shorthorn, Charolais,
Simmental and Hereford.
The Indicus breeds are normally hardier, more
disease resistant, not as inherently fertile, are
slower to reproductive and physical maturity,
and smaller in frame size.
The Taurus breeds are normally less hardy,
more susceptible to disease, faster to
reproductive and physical maturity, have more
milk and larger in frame size. They also tend to
have a more hairy coat.
In this part of the world we have 29 genotype
beef breed types to select from and these can
be broken down into the following groups: -
TAURUS BRITISH Hereford, Red Poll,
Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorn, South Devon,
TAURUS EUROPEAN Braunvieh (Brown
Swiss), Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousine,
Pinzgauer, omagnola, Simmental
INDICUS SANGA Afrikaner, Tuli, Nguni,
INDICUS ZEBU Boran, Brahman (American
composite), Indu Brazil, Guzerat, Nelor
THE COMPOSITE BREEDS Santa Gertrudis,
eefmaster, Bonsmara, Brangus, ensburger,
Huguenot, Sanganer, Simbra, Charbray.
Commercial cattlemen, in order to help
maximise their production, normally
crossbreed their cattle. The secret here is to
use two breeds of opposite genetics, TAURUS
x INDICUS i.e. Afrikaner x Sussex. When doing
this, the breeder now maximises the genetic
potential with the help of HYBRID VIGER. The
first cross CAN benefit by up to 14% increase
of performance. This will be with no extra
effort from management except the fact
that the breeder has used a bit of scientific
knowledge to help.
Remember that your cross-bred animal will
always give a heavier weaner than a purebred,
therefore, to breed heavy weaners,
cross a TAURUS with INDICUS; COMPOSITE
with TAURUS or COMPOSITE with INDICUS.
The mother breed must be able to produce
enough milk so that the calf can grow!
Get to know your breed types and what they
can and cannot do. Make your preferential
selection based on scientific fact and your
heart, not on what your friends tell you or
current fashion trends.
If I were to start my breeding program again, I
would select as my breeding factory, females
out of the INDICUS SANGA GROUP and use
as a bull one from the TAURUS GROUP or
COMPOSITE BREEDS e.g. TSWANA FEMALE *
SANTA GERTRUDIS BULL
The breed represented below is a Sussex
* Afrikaner cow with Santa Gertrudis
progeny. The point being made is the genetic
combinations are all opposite and the crossing
engineered to try and maximise the potential
The cow is 4 years old and has her second
calf at foot which is 5 months old. Note the
femininity of the two animals.
C A T T L E M A N A G E M E N T .
The ultimate objective would be to get all
your cows WEANING a calf of 250kgs or better
at 205 to 210 days of age. In reality it is not
happening at the posts and if you wean a calfy
at 170kgs at 7 months you think you have
There is no National record of Post operation
weaning weight averages, but in discussion
with other beef producers and from what I
have seen, the National average would be
around 170kg at 7 months. There are certainly
Post operators who achieve 230kg average
and one has to ask the question of HOW DO
THEY ACHIEVE THAT WEIGHT?
Breed selection is one reason, while
good management is another. The good
management means amongst other aspects,
good and efficient utilization of supplement
licks and mineral licks and one will find I am
certain, extra enthusiasm and understanding
for not only the animals but the labour and
natural resources as well.
In a weaner operation it is most important
to look after your female workers, especially
the younger glamorous models who are still
trying to prove that they are worth keeping.
As a manager you must allow your animals to
express their full genetic potential, and they
can only do this if they are well cared for. NOT
OVER CARED FOR BUT CORRECTLY CARED
1/ To start, when your cattle come in at night,
they should be separated into age groups.
All the Mosadi should be sleeping in one
kraal and all the flashy teenagers (heifers) in
another kraal. This separation means you can
now make sure that your heifers get what
they should and not let all the Mosadi eat the
2/ The fact, that you have started to separate
your females into groups means that you
can now start to bull your females correctly.
This means that your heifers are bulled
two months before your cows and you can
implement a controlled bulling season as well.
(Your bulls are locked up, and if they are doing
their work correctly the females will be served
at night when the majority are bulling in any
case). The odd one caught by your comrades
bull, while not the ideal situation, would be a
bonus for you!
The secret to success is to put as much
selection pressure as possible on the breeding
animals in order to eliminate all the passengers
and good time girls!! The target should be
a 6 week bulling period for the heifers and
a 8 week period for the Mosadi and Mosadi
3/ The Mosadi should receive in the early dry
months (April/May/June), no more than 170
to 220g of protein per day. On a scale of 1 to
5 the condition score of your animals should
be 3 at the end of summer, so it would be a
waste of money to supplement more protein
than 220g per day.
The young ladies who are still growing up
and also pregnant need extra care owing
to the fact that they have to grow and look
after the baby inside their bodies. This group
should receive supplement equal to between
200 and 225 grams of protein per day. The
reason for separation of the two groups now
becomes clear. The heifers would need to be
supplemented 700grams of 30%CP product
a day in order to get the required amount of
200gms protein per day.
4/ The period July through to September is
critical in that it is a time of great stress for
the animals. There is generally no or little
protein left in the grass and the amount of
grass is very little so your animals will need to
receive extra protein in order to slow down or
stop the weight loss. The Mosadi can afford to
loose weight up to 15% of their normal body
weight with little or no detrimental effect
on reconception or foetal weight. The young
females or heifers should not be allowed to
loose weight but rather to gain a small amount
of up to 250 grams per day or around 5 7kgs
per month. (I hope you have all got scales to
weigh your animals!! One simply can not farm
animals correctly without a scale.) It follows
therefore that the Mosadi should now receive
up to 350 grams of protein per day while the
younger animals should now get up to 450
grams of protein per day.
When August arrives your breeding cow and
calf, would be requiring the equivalent of 350
- 400 grams of protein per day. So for example
if your supplement contains 50% CP, then your
animals would have to eat 700 - 800grams of
supplement per day in order to receive the
required amount of protein.
Cows which are second calvers
require 450 grams of protein per day
Heifers which are first calvers require 500
grams of protein per day.
These levels of supplementation will ensure
you good reconception rates but also heavy
weaners as the mothers will be able to
produce enough milk to feed their calves
an adequate amount ensuring good growth
rates. It is important to remember that to stop
supplementing your animals too quickly, will
cancel out all the good work done before and
you would have wasted all your money. The
first rain DOES NOT mean stop supplementing.
In fact it signals BE EVEN MORE DILIGENT in
maintaining your animals. WINTER OR DRY
PERIOD MAINTENANCE SHOULD ONLY STOP
ONCE THE GRASS IS LONG ENOUGH FOR
THE ANIMAL TO GET A FULL MOUTH WHEN
IT BITES or when the animal stops taking the
supplement in the correct amounts.
TAKING CARE OF THE BULL
The bull can have as much as 80% influence
on your herd as far as genetics is concerned.
This is because the bull should give you more
than 15 calves a year so his influence is much
greater than that of the cow. It is therefore
very important for you to look after the bull
in the correct manner. How many Cattle
Post Operators go into South Africa, buy an
expensive bull, bring him home and then just
leave him at the post with very little or no feed
given to him during the acclimatisation phase.
The animal is then left to his own devices as
he is let loose in the veldt and expected to
cover all the available females as well as to try
and stay alive!! Firstly in a post situation, one
just simply cannot guarantee that that your
bull will stay with only your females. Should
your bull be a bull of any worth, then he is
going to have a roving eye, and females from
afar will be most attractive to him, especially
if they have better condition than his
own(your females). Is it not true that stolen
fruit always tastes sweeter than your own!!!
In order to look after your investment,
build the bull a kraal next to your main kraal.
It must be sited so that the bull can see what
is happening around him. He must be made
to feel part of the family and not just a spare
part. This kraal must be big enough for him
to move and get exercise, as this is where he
is going to spend the rest of his life. He must
have a good water supply and the food fed
must be high in roughage content. This ration
should not be more than 8% CP in value or
better still a maintenance diet. This food can
be fed at 3% of his live-weight per day or on
an ad-lib basis, e.g. if the bull weighs 650kgs,
then he must be fed 19.5 or 20kgs of food
EVERY day. The ration fed should be based on
a good percentage of roughage, as one does
not want the bull to get fat and lazy! Your bull
should also have access to the salt lick all year
Ralph Ferreira Feedlot Expert and
Consultant. Can be contacted on 72107097