Koala Park began feeding animals in 2003 expanding until 2006, to develop our feedlot. We are constantly improving our facilities to benefit the animals that we put through the system while maintaining the highest degree of animal well-being.
The maximum capacity of our back grounding system is 10 000 head, and the feedlot is 6 500 head. This is split between Harare and Chiredzi, where we have our extensive back grounding facilities. The size of the pens in the feedlot range between 2000 – 3000m². This gives the animals considerably more space than the legal requirement of 7.5m² per head, as we generally have between 150-200 head in a pen.
There are a number of reasons that we have chosen to pen-feed animals rather than grazing them on veld/grass.
There is more control as to what an animal eats, and we can calculate the average amount of feed each animal has eaten on a daily basis. The feed that we give our cattle is a well-balanced feed that provides the correct nutritional requirements for animals to grow at the required rate over the correct period. Our feed allows us to add extra weight to stock at a younger age, therefore increasing the turnover in the feedlot while increasing finishing quality thus the dressing percentage at slaughter.
We aim for between 50-55% dressing percentages, and are currently averaging 54% for supers in the feedlot. With our carefully monitored system providing two distinct stages, we are better able to match the variations in market demands throughout the year.
The animals we buy locally from our producers vary considerably in breed, weight, age and condition. These differences impact the prices we pay for the animals and take into account the time required to get that animal to slaughter and the desired grade. As such, we have learnt to work with the seasonal variations and carefully monitor those ready for slaughter as well as animals coming through the system to ensure continuity, limiting supply gaps when demand is high.
It takes approximately 200 days from purchase to slaughter. At purchase, we ensure that the animal is in good health, always striving to educate our producers on best cattle management practices. This ultimately improves their product and the prices they may receive next time they bring cattle to us.
The animal is graded based on the teeth to determine the grade at slaughter. Younger animals with milk teeth and up to four teeth, can make Super-grade, and if at weight, attracts a premium price. Cattle with six teeth are considered borderline, while those with eight teeth will be graded as commercial.
We tag and vaccinate all animals against Lumpy Skin, Anthrax, Botulism & Black quarter, as well as against endo - and ecto-parasites. Every animal is spray dipped to reduce the prevalence of tick-borne diseases. The animals are given a vitamin booster which helps them overcome the stresses of transport, possibly castration, processing or being with unfamiliar animals in unfamiliar surroundings. These all have a major impact on the suppression of an animal’s immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases. The new animals that are delivered daily are placed in smaller “quarantine/observation” pens with grazing and a small amount of background feed for a week allowing them to adjust and adapt. During this time they are monitored to ensure they are of good health before they are moved to our background pens.
Once they have been moved to back grounding, they are on a specially formulated feed to grow their frame out without depositing fat. During this time, we concentrate on getting the animals properly adjusted to eating food out of a trough, growing and getting ready for the feedlot move. Once the animals have reached our induction weight of 250-300kg, we are ready to induct them into the feedlot. The number of animals we induct each month is calculated based on the projected demand for mea in three months. The animals that are ready for the feedlot, are weighed and processed before going into the feedlot. Our feedlot is a closed, bio-secure area and any animal that enters doesn’t exit unless it is going for slaughter, and an animal that has moved out of feedlot cannot come back inside.
The animals are kept in the feedlot for between 90-110 days. During this time, they are fed a “finishing feed” which is used which is a higher energy and begins to lay down fat ready for slaughter at roughly 400-500kg (depending on the breed). Once a pen has been in for 90 days, we begin slaughtering those animals that are ready, giving the others that may be slightly behind up to 20 extra days to catch up. Once a pen is empty, the induction process begins