In this article, we will examine the problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria. We also look into ways we can improve livestock farming to reduce food insecurity in the country.
There is no contesting of the fact that cattle farming in Nigeria is one lucrative branch of agriculture which has made so many investors millionaires as well as creating employment for a bunch of others.
Cattle farming is a very profitable aspect of agriculture, but considered very stressful.
This is usually due to the much stress we must have seen the Fulani herders go through while trying to exert total control over their herds of cattle, but as they say “nothing good comes easy” , so you wouldn’t expect such a profitable venture to come with minimal input.
People venture into cattle farming mainly for two reasons, it is either for diary production or beef production. Considering our sociocultural background here in Nigeria, you would agree with me that there is a hardly a household that doesn’t eat meat, except for religious, or health reasons. There are only a few vegetarians in this part of the world. Mostly everyone consumes meat.
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The most common and most easily accessible type of meat consumed in Nigeria is beef. This makes cattle farming acceptable and highly profitable. Most modern cattle farms in Nigeria operates a ranching system where the animals are kept to graze freely.
These ranches are well fenced, with a provision for water, which is necessary for the growth of the grasses which the cattles feed on, and for their personal consumption as well.
Inside the ranches are farm houses/buildings where records as well as other equipment such as the haying equipment, handling facilities and others are stored. A diary ranch also has a milking parlour where milking is done. Other items included in the long list of equipment and facilities found in a modern ranch is a trailer, tractor and most importantly, a handfull of staffs.
Cattle farming provides a number of important byproducts aside beef and milk. This other important byproducts includes cheese, hides and skin, cow bones, cow hooves, cow organs, cow dung and many more.
There are suitable cattle breeds for the two various aspects of cattle farming. Breeds like the Sokoto Gudali, Jerseys, Sahiwals, Adamawa Gudali, Boran, White Fulani e.t.c are more suitable for diary production while breeds like the West African Dwarf Shorthorn (Muturu), Keteku, N’dama e.t.c are very suitable for beef production in Nigeria.
From the above you’ll agree with me that cattle farming is a very lucrative and interesting venture which will sure yield profit if managed properly here in Nigeria because beef is always in high demand.
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Problems Facing Cattle Farmers in Nigeria
Even with the perceived profits involved in cattle farming, cattle farmers in Nigeria are faced with all of the problems listed below, so it is necessary to consider these problems before finally making up your mind to venture into cattle farming.
One of the major problems faced by cattle farmers is marketing, this involves fixing the right price for the products to maximize profits as well as attract buyers as we all know that nothing turns off customers as much as inflated price.
Another marketing problem they face is getting the products to diaries, the cost of hiring transportation and getting luggage boys becomes an added cost which can’t be avoided as farm owners try as much as possible to avoid the spoilage of the diary products in high quantity as they lack the capacity to store products until buyers come around due to the epileptic power supply obtainable in most parts of the country.
2. Diseases and pest attack:
Cattle farmers in Nigeria have always had to deal with diseases and pests which have always caused grave financial losses to the farmers as some of the diseases have caused a number of deaths within the herds.
Some of the diseases which mostly affect cattles in this part of the world are rinderpest, contagious pleuropneumonia (CBPP), dermatophilosis, foot and mouth disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, trypanosomiasis, mastitis, brucellosis, heartwater etc.
Aside death, these diseases also reduce production as they are highly infectious. They can easily render a herd of cattle inactive thereby causing great loss to the farmer.
The infestation of diseases and pests also causes losses if various degree to the farmer in the sense that it forces the farmer to incur added costs of hiring a veterinarian and also the overall cost of treating or controlling the breakout of an infection.
Pests which are known to affect cattles are enteric and helmintic parasites i.e coccidian eimeria, flukes, roundworm and hookworms as well as ectoparasites like ticks, mange, mites and lice.
These pests and parasites can cause diarrhoea, loss of appetite, slow growth rate, infertility, damages to skin and most often mortality among herds which in turn leads to grave economic losses.
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3. Land availability:
Getting a land in suitable and conducive area has always been a problem for cattle farmers due to the activities of land grabbers and fake land agents. Also, the high costs of land in cities, especially in strategic areas, has also been one of the major problems of cattle farmers in Nigeria.
Fiance is one of the problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria. Cattle farming is a capital intensive venture which requires a lot of effort and commitment. Funding is a key aspect in cattle farming, it’s unavailability has seen a lot of cattle farms in Nigeria go down the drain.
The difficulty of obtaining the required capital to start and lack of financial support from the government has made it difficult for willing entrepreneurs to put there individual ideas into reality. It has also impeded the growth and expansion of some existing cattle farms as the owners only have access to limited funds.
Financial institutions have not been helpful to the popularization of cattle farming in Nigeria, instead it has impeded the growth of such a lucrative venture by not always making loans available to cattle farmers in Nigeria, in occasions when they do, the farmers are not always able to afford the collateral demanded by the financial institutions.
This is because, most of the financial institutions always have a resentment towards funding enterprises like cattle farming due to the long period of time required before the profits start raking in. They usually prefer those types of trades with the quick returns. Also, the high uncertainty involved reduces the potentials of the cattle farmers in getting a loan.
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4. Poor Infrastructure (bad roads and rail):
Poor infrastructure os one of the problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria. Bad roads and rail network has always been a major step back to not only cattle farmers but agriculture in general.
Transporting cattles and farm products has always been very difficult and also comes at extra costs due to the bad roads and failed rail system in the country.
Some of the animals don’t survive the long rickety roads they have to ride through before getting to the desired destinations. This becomes a loss to the farmer.
5. Poor management skills (bad staffs, poor hygiene):
Poor farm management skills remain one of the major problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria. Owners and staffs of most cattle farms are largely uneducated. This makes it difficult for them to understand and adopt new innovations and hygienic handling of beef and dairy products.
Since commercial cattle farming isn’t a one man business, good managerial skill is needed to maintain a steady growth.
Most cattle farmers lacks management skills which is known to be one of the major reasons why many cattle farms go down the drain. Another problem cattle farmers suffer is that of staffs who not dedicated to work. This can lead to serious financial loss.
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6. Weather condition (climate):
One of the problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria is getting foreign breeds of cattle to survive in the tropical weather obtainable here in Nigeria.
Most times, some breeds of foreign cattle are not able to survive. They develop respiratory problems which could lead to inactivity and finally death. All this setback serves as a source of financial loss to the farmer.
7. Government policies:
Irrelevant government policies is one of the problems facing cattle farmers in Nigeria. Lack of government support have caused a great decline in cattle farming.
In most western countries, beneficial policies are deliberately formulated to enable the growth of cattle farming, while the government also source for funds to support willing entrepreneurs.
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