Innovatively Outsmarting the High Feed Cost in Cattle Breeding Business

The Partnership and IACCB held webinar on June 25, 2020 themed: " Innovations for Cheap and Quality Cattle Feed Management". The webinar was attended by a total of 364 participants of which 294 (149 male and 144 female) linked in using zoom and approximately 71 people participated directly through YouTube channel @IAredmeatcattle.

This webinar tried to answer one of the remaining challenges faced by Indonesian cattle breeders which is high cattle production costs caused by high feed cost.   

As cattle feed is the key to achieve high cattle productivity, low feed cost is very crucial to the profitability of the cattle breeding business. Mr. Ben Mullen, a pasture development expert, emphasized that in providing cheap but high-quality feed for livestock, we must consider the efficiency of feed supply systems. One of the potential innovations is through pasture development by establishing high quality pasture resulting in forage with sufficient nutritional content.

Different breeding models bring different innovations in producing inexpensive and high-quality forage. The Indonesia Australia Commercial Cattle Breeding Program has been partnering with Indonesian private enterprises in piloting four cattle breeding models, including  the integrated oil palm and cattle production (or known as SISKA), Open Grazing, Cut-and-Carry (Breedlot), and Semi-SISKA/Semi Breedlot.

The SISKA model utilizes understory vegetation in oil palm plantations as the main feed source for cattle. Despite often being considered as weeds to the palm plantations, the understorey vegetation is actually very useful for livestock development. Mr. Esnawan Budisantoso, the Senior Technical Advisor of IACCBP, said that there was a expression used to describe such a situation as "weeds to plantations is ‘green gold’ to livestock". In order to optimize the utilization of vegetation under oil palm plantation, rotational grazing and selection of suitable plantation areas for grazing can be applied. In addition, using the pruned palm fronds as feed source is one of the methods that can be used to provide cheap feed in the SISKA model.

According to Drh. Gigih Tripambudi MM, Head of the Livestock Breeding and Livestock Forage Centre, in the open grazing breeding model, a similar innovation to the SISKA model has been applied, which regulates rotational grazing and divides livestock into several groups. He added that, the allowable grazing duration for cattle in the area must also be carefully calculated to ensure the grazing herd can get quality forage but at the same time not trample the grass allowing for quick re-growth as fodder for the subsequent rotation. When cattle are grazed for too long, the area will experience over grazing and if cattle are grazed for too short the area will be under grazed, which will eventually reduce the forage’s nutritional value.

Mr Supardi, (Head of the BX KPT Maju Sejahtera’s Business Unit) at KPT Maju Sejahtera has decided to apply a partnership system with surrounding farmers to develop cattle forage . KPT-MS has been able to reduce forage cost from IDR 350 per kg fresh grass to IDR 100 –  200 per kg. In addition, the current system provides benefits in terms of managing forage harvest time in order to maintain betterfodder quality. The partnership system can also help the surrounding community to improve family income.

The Webinar was moderated by Dr.rer.nat. Nur Rochmah Kumalasari SPt. MSi, Secretary of Livestock Feed and Nutrition Postgraduate Program, Faculty of Animal Husbandry at Bogor Agricultural University and representatives from Indonesian Association of Feed Nutrition and Experts (AINI).

The webinar concluded that innovations being used in developing cheap and high-quality forage will depend on the natural resources available to each breeding model. However, utilizing improved pastures and improved native grass as well as developing bare unused land for pasture development can be one of the strategies to obtain inexpensive high-quality forage.

Material of the webinar can be accessed on: