Increased demand for quality livestock and meat on a Nevis public farm
Mr. Rohan Claxton, livestock extension officer in charge of production at Maddens Stock farm, says a livestock program that was introduced in 2016 is paying off.
“We launched a breeding program in 2016. During this year, we had a total of 30 breeders… The calves that we received in 2017, we selected them to be replacement heifers with the core of the Senepol herd.
“So to date we have a total of 47 breeders, which means that this year we are expecting 47 calves. To date we have 37 calves, so we expect 10 more calves by the end of the year, ”he told the farm on October 29, 2021.
Mr Claxton noted that new breeds have been introduced to improve the quality of the livestock and the meat they produce.
“The breeds that we have introduced [are] the Brown Angus and the Red Angus as well as some Brahman bulls that we had before. Crossbreeding is therefore one of the techniques used to develop genetics or breeds on the island.
“Why did we choose these races? Angus is well known around the world as a beef producer, grows really fast, and the genetics are very, very excellent. The marbling of the meat is very good. The texture of the meat is very good. This is why we are introducing this breed so that it can grow quickly to reach market weight, ”he said.
According to the livestock extension agent, there has been a growing local demand for beef produced from cattle at Maddens Stock farm and as a result they have focused on producing cows for sale to farmers who want to improve the genetics of their cattle. They also supply the slaughterhouse for the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We normally supply the slaughterhouse when needed, because the demand for beef is huge. I’m sure many of you have been to local restaurants and realize that you eat local ground beef, and the Slaughterhouse provides beef patties as well. The cuts of choice, you will see them everywhere in the supermarket.
“So right now the demand for beef is taking off. A while back we had cattle that we called “beef festival” where we would sell beef for $ 5 when no one was taking it. Now that the demand is there, the supply is insufficient. Currently at the Slaughterhouse, it’s $ 8.50 a pound [and] butchers $ 10.00 a pound, ”he said.
Mr Claxton said Maddens’ central herd numbered around 100 head and described them as in perfect condition, although rainfall was a challenge throughout the year, with the exception of some in September.
However, in the absence of rain, they had to resort to supplementation and cutting grass from elsewhere and transporting it to the cows to keep them alive.
“We supplement the cows with spent hops and Brewers grains. These grains are truly a blend of barley… Brewers grain and beer hops. So after all the extractions… once it is fed in small amounts… it gives it high protein and protein performance that animals can benefit from.
“The main herd, we tried to keep it up with Brewers grain or depleted hops and it saved our lives. If you look at the animals, they are in perfect condition because we had some rains in September then the enclosures with the herbs [have] they’ve grown back, so now they’ve got a bit of lush green, ”he said.
According to Mr. Claxton, when it comes to food, each cow should consume at least 20 percent of its body weight. The average body weight of cows in Maddens is around 800 to 1000 pounds, which means they should consume at least 20 to 30 pounds of grass per day, in order for their proteins to develop and grow and provide milk to them. their calves. .
The cattle herd in Nevis is small, less than 300 heads at most. However, in the 1960s and 1970s the island had over 7,000 head of cattle and exported at a time when farmers engaged in mixed farming and ranching.
Mr Claxton said that at that time Nevis exported cattle to Saint-Bains, Saint-Eustache, Saint-Kitts, Guadeloupe, Martinique and also exported donkeys.