Cattle is one of the livestock species predominantly kept by both local farmers and Fulani herdsmen in Ghana.
They are commonly kept for meat and this accounts for about 33% of all locally produced meat. Recent investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture and some NGOs have afforded some farmers the opportunity to keep diary animals. There are a number of cattle species in Ghana but the dominant ones are; Sanga, West African short horn, Ndama and their crosses.
Cattle may be classified into:
- Beef cattle for meat production
- Dairy cattle for milk production
- Dual purpose cattle for beef and milk
Things to consider before starting cattle production
- Breeding stock (1 bull – 25 cows)
- Housing and equipment
- Health management
Breeds for cattle production may be local (indigenous) or foreign (exotic). Cross breeds which have certain advantages maybe used rather than exotic which have difficulties withstanding the harsh climatic conditions.
Selection of breeding stock
- They should have well developed udder and teats
- They should have large hind quarters
- They must be docile and have good mothering ability
- They should have good body conformation
- They should have well developed testes of equal size
- They should have very strong hind legs
- They should be very active and not shy ( a shy breeder is a bull that will neither allow any bull to cross a cow nor cross itself)
- They should have good body conformation.
Mating takes place when the cow is on heat. Heat is repeated every 21 days. The main sign of heat is that the female mounts other cows and allows others to mount it. It becomes restless and the vulva becomes red.
Housing and equipment
Simple housing made from locally available materials may be used for construction of kraals. Materials required for housing include bamboo tree branches wood scantling and thatch, floor space for housing is 2.5-3m2 per cattle. The site for housing should be located on the outskirts of the town and have adequate supply of water. It should be well ventilated.
Equipment required include
Weighing scale, burdizzo, dehorners, watering and feeding troughs, milking utensils etc.
Cattle are ruminant herbivores and for that matter they feed mainly on grass. For semi intensive system, cattle are sent out to graze during the day. Pastures may also be developed to feed the animals. About one acre of developed pasture may be adequate for matured cattle a year. Example of grass and legumes used on pastures include Panicum maximum (Guinea grass) leucaena spp, elephant grass, centrosema etc. supplementary feeds such as wheat bran, spent malt and concentrates may be used. To enhance feed utilization and steady growth especially during the dry season, it is recommended to give minerals block, or urea molasses block.
Improved health management requires regular cleaning of kraals and vaccination of the animals against scheduled diseases such as foot & mouth disease, Anthrax, Brucellosis, Lumpy skin and Rinderpest.
- Castrate males at 3-6 months
- Trim hoof when required
- Dehorn/disbud at 1-2 months old
- Clean kraals and pens daily
- Dip/spray against ecto-parasites frequently in the wet season.
- Deworm young animals regularly
Production parameters involving improved breeds (crossbreeds)
|Gestation period||9 months|
|Age at weaning||3-4 months|
|Age of first mating||2 years|