Cattle are also kept by individual sugar cane and rice farmers for draught power, an economical way for smaller farmers to provide to the local market and be part of a collective that contributes to the growth of Fiji’s beef industry (63% self-sufficiency nationwide in beef achieved in 1984).
Support by New Zealand and Australian Aid; funded by the Fiji Development Bank, and improved practices and education monitored and implemented across the market by the Ministry of Agriculture in Fiji, small to medium-sized farms learned the sound basics of good stock control, stockyards, improved pastures, simple records, and effective financial control, with emphasis on how farmers could improve the genetic material of their beef herd through bull selection in the cheapest and quickest way.
These financial and specialized investments in the beef industry expanded the potential reach to a greater percentage of the population, with smaller commercial beef operations starting in other parts of Fiji (Waidina, Naitasiri, Sawakasa, Wainibuka, Namosi, Ra, and Vanua Levu), with larger developments in Uluisaivou (Ra) and Yalavou (Nadroga).
The main breed of cattle that were taken to farms around the country was the Brahmin because it was the most common cattle brought to the country by the early missionaries, with several newer introductions from the 1950s onwards, with the Santa Gertrudis species introduced in 1954, Herefords and Angus in the early 1960s each identified by there suitability for the oceanic tropical climate of Fiji.
The Brahman cattle were originally derived from the Indian Bos indicus Zebu type. It is now developed as a major beef breed for the humid and sub-humid tropics. Brahmans are humped cattle, predominantly grey in colour. The breed is medium-sized with a tendency to mature late. Young cattle are therefore covered without excess fat. Brahman cattle have the attributes of tick and heat tolerance. They perform well both under humid heat and hot dry harsh conditions.
Hence the Brahman cattle have been extensively used in tropical countries to infuse these features in the British breed cattle. Breeds developed from the Brahman include Santa Gertrudis, Droughtmaster, Braford, Brangus and Charbray.
The Hereford cattle is one of the British breeds and is known as the Bos taurus breed. The breed originates from Herefordshire, England. It has a deep red colour and contrasting creamy white face, chest flanks and leg points. The breed is medium-sized and of medium maturity.
Friesian Cattle (Holstein)
The Friesian is the most common breed on dairy farms. They originate from Holland and Germany. It is a horned animal and its colour is typically black and white but may be totally white or black. Friesians are large-sized animals and can be used for crossbreeding with beef breeds. Friesians are a late-maturing breed compared to other dairy breeds. Of all dairy breeds Friesians are the highest milk producers.
Fiji Draught Bullock
The Fiji Draught Bullock has been bred for over a century and is mainly used by sugar cane and rice farmers in Fiji. They are derived from the Bos indicus Brahman breed. They are mostly horned and in varying colours. The Fiji Draught Bullocks are large-sized animals and were used widely by the farming community till the introduction of tractors. Farmers prefer to castrate them for placid temperament and management. Working bullocks are mostly raised on marginal lands and on cane tops during the sugar harvesting season. They contribute substantially to the country’s beef production.