Pics: 7,000 cattle feedlot with a difference in Morocco

The Copag Co-operative is one of the largest in Morocco, consisting of a number of different enterprises including a 7,000 head cattle feedlot.

As part of the Irish trade mission to Morocco, a delegation of Irish companies, including high-level exporters, got a first hand look at the facilities in Morocco’s Taroudant region.

Some of the 7,000 cattle on the Copag feedlot
Some of the 7,000 cattle on the Copag feedlot

The Feedlot Manager, Abdelmounaim El Mokhtari explained that the feedlot has a very unique strategy of dealing with Friesian bull calves, while also offering a heifer replacement policy to its dairy farmer suppliers.

El Mokhtari said the co-op’s dairy farmer suppliers can essential get their heifers reared for free until calving, as long as they are willing to forfeit their bull calves to the co-op.

Feedlot Manager Abdelmounaim El Mokhtari discussion the production system
Feedlot Manager Abdelmounaim El Mokhtari discussing the production system

Farmers are required to send 50% heifer calves and 50% bull calves to the facility, he said, and the farmer incurs no cost to have his heifers reared, while the Friesian bulls are slaughtered to cover the cost of keeping the replacement heifers.

This, he said, was beneficial to both the feedlot and the dairy farmer, as it allows farmers to focus on producing milk without having to worry about heifer management.

Getting ready to feed the calves on the feedlot
Getting ready to feed the calves on the feedlot

Video: A bird’s eye view of the feedlot

Managing 7,000 head of cattle

The Feedlot Manager explained that 70% of the cattle slaughtered on the farm on an annual basis are Holstein Friesian steers, while the remaining 30% is made up of beef crossbreeds from the dairy herd.

For the Friesian system, he said calves generally come onto the feedlot at approximately 15 days of age and are fed diets of milk supplied by the co-op’s dairy enterprise for the next 50 days.

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Calf hutches on the feedlot

Following the milk feeding stage, calves are transitioned onto a forage diet consisting of maize silage, alfalfa and concentrates.

The Friesian steers are slaughtered at 12-14 months of age, he said, at 600kg liveweight or 280kg deadweight.

six-to-eight month Holstein steers on the feedlot
six-to-eight month Holstein steers on the feedlot

The remaining 30% of beef animals on the feedlot consist mainly of beef heifers sourced from the dairy herd. This heifers have a target slaughter age of 16 months producing 300-400kg carcasses.

The Irish delegation at the feedlot
The Irish delegation at the feedlot

Target growth rates:
  • Calves: 1.05kg/day
  • Six-to-12 months: 1.3-1.5kg/day
  • Finishing: 1.1kg/day 
Replacement heifers beginning to spring up on the feedlot
Replacement heifers beginning to spring up on the feedlot

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