Three main cattle breeds are identified in the statistics – Bali, Ongole (imported from India by the Dutch) and Madura (originating from the island in East Java by the same name). The remainder (“Other”) are Limousin, Simmental and Brahmans or their crosses. Bali, Ongole and “Other” breeds each make up roughly 30% each of Indonesia’s cattle with Madura accounting for the remainder. Female breeders make up around 68% of all cattle in Indonesia, with little difference by region (or province). Differences in age profiles of cattle are also subtle, but some exceptions are noted below.
The highest and most dense cattle population is in Java, which holds half the national beef cattle herd. Some 57% of Indonesia’s human population also live in Java. Cattle numbers in Java have grown at rates below the national average perhaps reflecting resource (especially land and labour) constraints, which is significant given the number of cattle. Ongole crosses are the most populous breed, but East Java in particular is also the major centre for the Madura breed. “Other” breeds that have been introduced for fattening and for distribution schemes make up 30% of the cattle herd.
For Java as a whole, 42% of the male cattle are yearlings (the highest in the country), while this figure is above 50% for provinces like West Java and Banten. Accordingly, these provinces have very low proportions of female breeders. Java also has the youngest herd, with only 27% being “adult” (i.e. older than yearlings). In upland areas, farmers tend to keep cattle longer and sell mature animals. In all areas, cattle are kept primarily for cash income and only secondarily for draught power and manure. Java also has a number of large feedlots and mechanised abattoirs.
While Sumatra has a much smaller cattle herd, it is the next largest in Indonesia and has grown at the fastest rate. While most cattle are produced in small-holder systems, there are large feedlots throughout Sumatra that utilise feeds from plantation estates (palm, pineapple, cassava etc.). Reflecting the greater focus on fattening (and imported cattle), Sumatra has the highest proportion of imported crossbreeds in Indonesia. While the island has traditionally focused on supplying the Jakarta market, recent economic growth in the island has seen increasing intra-island demand.
The Bali and Nusra (NTB and NTT) region in Eastern Indonesia has a drier tropical climate, a longer distinct dry season, a higher incidence of seasonal grazing, poor soils and significant feed gaps. Most cattle are the Bali breed which are adapted to the harsh conditions and low input-output systems and maintain high fertility and conception rates. However they are small in size and have low growth rates, while low feed inputs and milk production and harsh climatic conditions can lead to high calf mortality and long calving intervals (Mastika, 2003). While there are very few other cattle breeds in the region there are large numbers of water buffalo in Bali and Nusra (12% the number of beef cattle) but numbers are declining. Bali-Nusra is regarded by industry as a cow-calf production region but this is not reflected in herd composition statistics (age, sex) compared with other regions and over time. The region has also been a traditional exporter of live cattle, although numbers are constrained by quota allocation in recent years. For example, NTB exported 23,000 breeders and slaughter cattle in 2012 and NTT exported 66,000 from NTT.