Feed inputs for cattle production in Indonesia are diverse. They range from: cut and carry of crop residues and grasses (e.g. Java); the open grazing of cattle in grass and shrub land in Eastern Indonesia; to tree forages in both intensive and extensive systems; and residues from plantation crops in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Intensive cropping areas like East Java produce one to three crops of rice per year, combined with a large number of other crops. It is estimated that East Java produces about 19 million tonnes of rice straw that is the main feed base for 4.7 million cattle (the number claimed in official statistics). One study (form Gaja Mada University) claimed that the province has a carrying capacity of 7 million head but other studies (e.g. Syamsu et al. 2003) found that East Java may already be over-stocked. In intensive cropping systems, farmers collect straw and grasses from their own land. But because of the small land sizes and reluctance to store feed, also collect from
In intensive cropping areas, a large proportion of feed is sourced on-farm from crop residues and from and the grasses or forages grown on bunds and perimeters. However, small land sizes (relative to cattle numbers) and the difficulties of feed storage, mean that farmers source a significant part of their feed from outside their own farm through: cut and carry on communal areas; by assisting with the harvest of other households in return for straw; or by pooling resources to rent trucks to pick up larger quantities of rice straw from areas in a staggered harvest season. In these systems, the price of the straw lies the labour and transport costs of collecting it. However, in areas such lowland East Java with a large specialised household fattening sector, a feed market and trading industry is developing, even for even low grade and low value feed such as rice straw.
The Indonesian government regards grassland areas as a major “unused” resource that can be utilised to increase cattle numbers. There are numerous plans to build cattle “ranches” in remote areas of NTB and NTT. Based on estimates of land and carrying capacity, the NTB government estimates that cattle numbers can be increased by 50% (The Government of NTB, 2009) and NTT policy-makers estimate they can increase cattle numbers by 38%. Several studies (eg. Mulik, 2012) question the technical basis for these claims. Many grassland areas have been invaded by weeds (Chromolaena), with significant grassland degradation in common grazing systems. Over-stocking means that limited available feed has to be apportioned over more cattle that lowers productivity and degrades the resource base (grasslands) leading to lower grass growth and higher weed growth.
There have been long-standing efforts in Indonesia to grow forages to improve the nutritional value of feed, either as supplements or for prolonged periods of the year. In wetter areas, forages that can be integrated into cropping systems include improved grasses (e.g. king grass and elephant grass) and sesbania planted on bunds and in small plots of land. Another tree forage (leucaena) can be planted in strips or perimeters and, once established, and can yield a consistent supply of good nutrition (protein) even in dry season. There has been an increase in leucaena planted in in Eastern Indonesia for cattle feed, including for/by specialised fattening households. Plantation systems are a source of feed in Sumatra and Kalimantan, through residues (palm, pineapple, cassava) and also grazing under plantations (in various plantation – household models). While most cattle are produced in small-holder systems, there are large feedlots throughout Sumatra that utilise feeds from plantation estates.