It is pleasant to find young Nigerians interested in learning how to start cattle farming in Nigeria. Cattle farming is very lucrative; there is plenty of potential for the long term considering the amount of meat consumed by people of Nigeria, and also considering the fact that cattle are also used for certain traditional and religious practices.
Traditionally, this has been the purview of the Fulani people, because the lands in the north have been very suitable to this kind of business, and also because they have been involved in raising animals for centuries.
Nevertheless, this is a business that anybody can do, as long as care is taken to ensure that it is done properly, following the best practices in the industry.
How To Start Cattle Farming In Nigeria
Acquire Land In A Suitable Area
The size of the land will depend on the scale of the venture one is trying to set up. Important considerations are that the land should be dry but not so dry that there is no vegetation. The land should also be
Preferable locations are usually places that are not too far from the road so that passersby can see the cattle, and come into the ranch to make enquiries.
Build A Cattle Shed
You are going to need a large shed to protect the cattle from extreme weather, but the cows will largely spend more time outside than within the shed.
One thing to avoid is building a shed with the kind of entrance that a human residence would have. These are animals, and so they do not behave in an orderly manner. They will rush in and out; potentially harming each other in the process. To avoid this you will need to make the entrance to the shed wide enough.
But the cattle shed’s entrance should be secure so that no cattle can stray away, nor can anyone just break in and steal the prized cattle.
Purchasing Your First Stock
This is a very important move that you want to take great care before doing this. Of course you will get your opening stock from existing farms, but not just any farm. You have to select farms where their stock is healthy and the animals look big and heavy.
In order to diversify the gene pool as much possible you will need to select calves from several different locations; as far away from each other as possible. This will give you very healthy animals.
Procuring Feed For The Cattle
Feed is very important; all living things need to eat to stay alive and thrive. Fortunately, cattle eat mostly grass just like goats, sheep, and other animals within its family. Aside from grass, they also eat roughages, which is a mixture of plant foods, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Livestock feed dealers have this in stock, but one can simply make them on his own.
Open grazing is totally out of the question now so you have to get forage for your cattle in some other way. A suggestion is to locate your cattle farm close to a farming village, and then go to the farmers to get the grass they get from clearing their farms before planting.
You can also collect plant matter after the harvesting has been done. This will work better if you have a truck with which to carry the plant matter. You can phone the farmers before going, and they will be happy to give you this plant matter in exchange for a small fee, or manure.
One can get spent grain from factories and make his own unique animal feed. Cows lick salt for nutrition; it is important to provide this as well.
Taking Care Of The Cattle
It is important to take good care of the cattle on the farm. One needs to be observant so as to notice the earliest signs of illness on cattle. One should know when a cow or bull is not as active as it should be. Furthermore, it is absolutely vital to have a veterinary doctor available to check on your animals so as to provide treatment whenever necessary.
Mating The Cattle
Cows and bulls can reach sexual maturity around 2 years but it is important to ensure that they have become big and heavy enough before mating them. This is where the money is; you need the animals to multiply so that you can grow your farm and wealth.
The gestation period for cows is usually 283 days (or 9 months and 10 days), and the calves are usually weaned after 7 months. However, new studies show that calves can be weaned after 3 months, after which they should be fed balanced diets. The young calves will perform very well, and show no difference from those weaned much later.
Or Just Invest In Cattle As A Business
In many parts of Nigeria there is a kind of investment in which a desiring investor buys the young calves but does not actually take them home. The calves may be marked for easy recognition, and the owner may visit the ranch as regularly as possible. Of course, the calves with become full grown cows and bulls, and then start reproducing.
The interesting thing about this kind of investment is that the investor makes profit without even lifting a finger. When the cows reproduce, one belongs to the investor, and the other belongs to the rancher taking care of them; although this can be two for the investor and one for the rancher, depending on the agreement.
It usually takes only 12-15 months for calves to reach sexual maturity, although it is widely encouraged that the young cow be mated at 2 years of age.
In this way people have gone on to have as many as 100 heads of cattle, without even ever having to herd or care for them one day in their lives.
Problems Of Cattle Farming In Nigeria
In the north there are many recorded incidences of cattle rustling every year. This may be attributable to the spate of insecurity in the region- cattle rustlers may be taking advantage of the fear and confusion prevalent in the area.
The best land for cattle farming is high ground; not susceptible to flooding, or water logging. Sometimes getting land is difficult because this type of land is highly valued and very expensive.
Finding A Foraging Area
Most of the cattle raised in the country is still done in the nomadic or semi nomadic manner, but that is no longer necessary. Farmers may find themselves in need of pastures, but a solution has already been proffered above.
The following are questions that may come up in a readers mind.
Questions You May Probably Have About Cattle Farming
Where Is A Good Place To Site Your Cattle Farm?
If you have any place that is dry, or on a hill, this is a prime location for a cattle farm. However, any place that is susceptible to flooding is generally not a good place to put a cattle farm. Building a cattle farm on the banks of a river, or in swampy places is usually a bad idea.
How Much Does A Cow Cost In Nigeria?
Prices can vary remarkably between Northern Nigeria and the South. However, on the average; one can get a calf for around N45,000 to N50,000. A medium sized cow can go for around N100,000 to N140,000, while a huge cow can go for around N200,000.
How Much Would It Take To Start A Cattle Farm In Nigeria?
If you already have land, then the expenses could be much reduced. The cost of starting the cattle farm including building the cattle shed and buying your starting stock of cattle should be around N1.5 million. Remember that you want to buy young calves which cost a lot less than fully grown cattle.
Further Reading: Business Ideas For Nigerians
Going by the insatiable demand for beef in Nigeria; starting a cattle farm is just like buying a money printing machine. With proper care, and the incorporation of new ways of doing things, one can become very wealthy from this business, even establishing something to pass down to the future generations.