The Meatco Okapuka feedlot has 106 pens, and stocks around 9,200, mostly A Grade, cattle at any time. These animals are kept and fed at the facility for a period of 90 days before slaughter.
Situated a few kilometres along the road between Windhoek and Okahandja, the Okapuka Feedlot is an intensive animal production system which helps animals younger than 18 months, but weighing more than 280 kilograms, to achieve the desired marketability.
Feedlot cattle are sourced from communal and commercial producers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence. Ideally, large frame bulls are preferred for the feedlot and the price paid to the producer is determined on the hoof.
The feedlot has been operational since 1996. Before that, it was located just outside Okahandja, on the road leading to Otjiwarongo.
Unlike conventional South African feedlots, Okapuka does not use growth hormones, routine antibiotics or animal byproducts and animal welfare is always a priority. All medication administered to the animals at the feedlot is approved by the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS).
The total capital development at the Okapuka Feedlot amounted to N$14.8 million for the 2015/16 financial year and Meatco plans to further increase its Okapuka Feedlot standing capacity to approximately 10,000 animals at some point in the future, in order to be able to supply at least 32,000 cattle per annum to our slaughter facilities. The drought conditions of this reporting period, however, have meant that the ability to purchase large numbers of animals for this feedlot has suffered, despite the availability of suitable amounts of feed.
Development of a new feedlot at Farm Annasruh, 4 km north of Gobabis, will service the communal and commercial farming communities of Omaheke Region. Initial capacity will be accommodated in 26 pens (to be expanded to 52 in the future); 3,200 standing animals will be rotated 3.5 times a year, resulting in 11,200 animals being accommodated in total per annum when feedlot operations commence there. This will gradually increase to 12,000 standing cattle over a period of 3 to 5 years, leading to 30,000 animals accommodated per annum.
The site will also include a processing facility, a feed mixing and storage area, as well as an additional feed dispenser, thus allowing farmers to raise their weaners to slaughter animals that can be sold to Meatco, rather than being forced to try to market their animals on the hoof to South Africa under increasingly difficult export conditions.
Upon arrival at the feedlot, animals are sorted and divided into kraals with a stocking density of 10m2 per animal. A big difference between Meatco’s feedlot and conventional feedlots is that animals in the Okapuka feedlot have spent the majority of their lives in the veldt and come to the feedlot only to be finished for the market.
For the first day and night, the animals are only fed grass to ease them into feedlot conditions. This is an added measure to ensure that animals experience minimal stress, which ultimately impacts on the quality of the meat produced.
QUOTE: Taken from the October MeatUS
Elia Kavari, a farmer in the area, explains the need for a feedlot locally: “We need a feedlot to help us raise our weaners to slaughter cattle. The feedlot will also improve our cattle numbers, especially weaners. Gobabis produces a lot of cattle but with no feedlot in the area we end up selling our cattle to other countries since access is easier. But now, thanks to this development, we can sell our animals to Meatco.”