Livestock Research for Rural Development 25 (11) 2013 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Socio-economic potential of Indonesian native cattle in supporting meat self-sufficiency in Indonesia

E Nugroho, S Azizah, T Susilawati* and I Novianti*

Department of Socio-Economic, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Brawijaya, University,
Jalan Veteran, Malang, East Java, 65145 Indonesia
* Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Animal Husbandry, Brawijaya, University,
Jalan Veteran, Malang, East Java, 65145 Indonesia


The cattle population in Indonesia remains far from sufficient to fulfill the national demand for meat. To cope with this problem, the government allows and increases the amount of imported life cattle and frozen meat. At the same time, Indonesia pursues self-sufficiency for meat by 2014, by increasing the local production with local breeds. Rambon cattle – originating from the regency Banyuwangi in East Java is one of Indonesia’s native cattle breeds whose potential has not yet been fully explored. This study reveals the socio-economic impact of the Rambon cattle and the indigenous knowledge of the farmers in the village Kemiren. Sixty-five farmers were selected and interviewed using a questionnaire. The data were analyzed with an input-output analysis and a descriptive analysis.

The study shows that on average a farmer owned 1.29 0.80 head Rambon cattle. Most farmers attended their own cattle, instead of profit sharing with a shepherd. Moreover, Rambon cattle are mainly held as a draught animal to cultivate the land. Rambon cattle farmers earn yearly on average USD 188 per animal in addition to their use as a ploughing animal. The income of USD 188 is the result of selling the animal at the market after two years of fattening. This shows that with the contemporary but traditional management, Rambon cattle are socio-economic important to a farmer’s household. The study suggests that the farmers with the highest amount of land have the possibility to maintain two extra animals to increase both their income and meat production. Those farmers who cannot increase the amount of animals can increase meat output by improving their management skills of feeding and reproduction.

Keywords: animal management, economic value, rambon cattle, smallholder farmers


Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic country with more than 17,000 islands. Nearly 60% of Indonesian population, 131 million, is living on Java Island that comprises 7% of the total national land area. By comparison, the total Indonesian land area is about 1.9 million square kilometers with the total population is 237 million people (BPS 2010a). Moreover, agriculture, together with the livestock, forestry and fisheries sector is the second largest sector that contributes 15.91% of the total national GDP after manufacturing industries (24.9%). In line with its contribution to the national GDP, agriculture plays a very important role for Indonesian population because it can absorb the largest labor force (41.24%). Similarly, Upton (2004) revealed that agriculture is the most important industry in the world in terms of the number of people employed.

In the livestock sub-sector, the province East Java is endowed with a large livestock resource in Indonesia mainly comprised of 3.74 million cattle, 2.82 million goats, 24 million native chickens, 21.95 million layers, and 56.99 million broilers (Animal Husbandry Services of East Java 2011). Nevertheless, these large numbers of cattle remain insufficient to fulfill meat demand for the national population. The trend of imported beef cattle and frozen meat has increased by 47.50% and 4.1%, respectively, between 2006 and 2009 (Directorate General of Livestock Services 2010). In response to this condition, the Government of Indonesia through the Directorate General of Livestock Services has been promoted a livestock development program targeting self-sufficiency for meat by the year 2014. In order to achieve the target, the government intends to gradually reduce both the number of imported beef cattle and imported frozen meat. In addition, the government has also been offered projects for scientists, researchers and academicians to improve the productivity of the native cattle breeds in Indonesia. As a result, researchers from the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia have identified several indigenous cattle breeds that still exist in East Java province (Susilawati et al 2004). Rambon cattle have been acknowledged as one of indigenous cattle breeds originated from Banyuwangi regency in East Java province (Photo 1). Although no official historical records exist, it is generally inferred that Rambon cattle has similar phenotypic characteristic with Bali cattle (Bos sondaicus), which were likely the most popular native cattle breed in Indonesia (Kuswati et al 2006). The Bali breed is the domesticated direct descendant of the wild Banteng (Bos javanicus) still surviving as an endangered species in three national Wild Reservation Parks (Ujung Kulon, Baluran and Blambangan) in Java (Martojo 2003; Mohamad et al 2009). However, there is little literature on the desirable attributes of Rambon cattle. In addition, indigenous knowledge of the communities keeping the Rambon cattle has not been adequately documented. Therefore, understanding the socio-economic potential of indigenous beef cattle in East Java - Indonesia remains a topic of great interest to those who wish to promote Indonesian local cattle breeds. The objectives of this study were to determine the socio-economic roles of Rambon cattle. The study also intended to describe farmers’ indigenous knowledge in keeping Rambon cattle.

Figure 1. Cattle Rambon

Materials and methods

Study design

The study was a descriptive survey aimed at investigating the socio-economic of Rambon cattle farming and the traditional knowledge in keeping of the Rambon cattle among the farmers in the village Kemiren in Glagah sub-district, Banyuwangi regency.

Study site

The study was carried out in the sub-district Glagah of Banyuwangi regency, East Java province. The sub-district had a total land area of 177 hectares, located in the West of Banyuwangi regency. Glagah is situated on the east slope of Mount Ijen and had an altitude that ranges from 160 to 460 m above sea level (a.s.l). The average temperature ranged from 22o C to 26o C with annual rainfall of 2000 mm per year. The sub-district Glagah consisted of ten villages i.e. Paspan, Glagah, Olehsari, Rejosari, Bakungan, Banjarsari, Tamansuruh, Kenjo, Kampunganyar and Kemiren (BPS 2010b). Of the 10 villages in the sub-district Glagah, Kemiren was chosen purposively due to its high concentration of Rambon cattle as compared to other villages in the sub-district. The recent data issued by the Animal Husbandry Services of East Java (2011) show that the estimated population density of Rambon cattle in Kemiren was 41 head per square km (Livestock Service Department of Banyuwangi 2010). In addition, the location of Kemiren was easier to access by public transportation and the road was broader, paved and better maintained.

Study population and sampling

The subjects of the study were farmers in the village Kemiren who had been keeping Rambon cattle. Of the 2,491 inhabitants inKemiren, most of them (43%) were engaged in the daily farm life activities as farmers and farm laborers. In order to capture a comprehensive description, sixty-five farmers were purposively selected from the list of all farm households keeping Rambon cattle in the village based on criteria that farmers have kept the cattle for minimum one year.

Data collection method

The selected farmers were then interviewed extensively focusing on socio-economic aspects of Rambon cattle keeping management using a structured questionnaire containing both closed and open-ended questions. The questionnaire was administered through individual interview of household heads. Other family members were allowed to answer the questions in order to supplement the information. The questionnaire was designed to collect information on characteristics of respondents, Rambon cattle keeping management, and economic calculations of Rambon cattle keeping practices. Characteristics of respondents consisted of demographic variables, family labor size, land holdings, and length of farming experience. Demographic variables alone were indicated by age of household head, education level of household head, and types of employment of household head. In relation to Rambon cattle keeping management, numerous indicators included in the analysis were aims of keeping Rambon cattle, number of cattle possession, Rambon cattle ownership status, cattle keeping and feeding strategies, and cattle reproduction methods. Meanwhile, economic calculations of Rambon cattle keeping practices comprised several indicators such as average fixed production costs, average variable production costs, average revenue, and average income.

Data processing and analysis

Descriptive analyses as well as input-output analyses were employed to analyze the collected data. The Microsoft Excel work sheet was used for analyses. In this study, data were mainly expressed in percentages such as variables on characteristics of respondents and Rambon cattle keeping management.

Results and discussion

Characteristic of the respondents

The population in Kemiren was dominated by indigenous ethnic in Banyuwangi, namely “Osing”. Table 1 shows the characteristics of respondents covering age, education level, type of employment, number of family labor, land ownership, and length of farming experience.

Table 1: Characteristics of respondents


Socio-demographic variable




Age (years)



a. 15-64 (productive)



b. >64-70 (unproductive)







Level of education



a.      Not yet attended school



b.     Not yet attended elementary school



c.      Elementary school



d.     Junior high school



e.      Senior high school



f.      University







Type of employment



a.      Farmer



b.     Local trader



c.      Government official



d.     Small enterprises







Average of family labor (AWE)

3.53 0.87



Average of land ownership (m2)



a. Rice field

3,173 2,337


b. Dry land

612 132


c. Home garden

452 56.0



Average of farming experience (years)

16.2 10.0


Characteristics of respondents showed that the age of household heads varied from 16 to 70 years old. The majority of the household heads (95.38%) were at a productive age so that he/she was the main figure in the economic activity of the household. According to BPS (2000), productive age was directed to those with 15 to 64 years of age. Meanwhile, unproductive labor was addressed to those with less than 15 or those with more than 64 years of age (BPS 2000). This result agrees with the findings of Yustika (2003) in Indonesia who reported that the general population structure in rural areas was dominated by household heads at a productive age. This condition was ideal for household activity as the average age of the household heads was relatively young to be supporting household economic needs. Thus respondents at a productive age were able to work on the farm, and might have been able to keep their cattle. However, the study also found that respondents aged more than 64 years old were still able to work on their own farm.

Another finding was respondents in the study area had low educational background where 69.23% of them only accomplished the elementary school and 6.14% of the respondents did not complete elementary school or even never attended school at all. This low education level was mainly due to the fact that the school infrastructure was limited in the study area. There were only 2 elementary schools in the village Kemiren. Thus, inhabitants of the village need to go outside Kemiren to continue their higher education level which was about 12 km far away from the village (in the city Banyuwangi). Hence, distance might also contribute to the respondent’s lack of eagerness to continue their higher education. It is difficult for the farm household heads to gain access new information and knowledge about agriculture due to the lack of education. Respondents, who had low education level, might have less knowledge about proper cattle management practices. This condition may retard development because they cannot adapt to the changing environment and technological development.

True to the general description of rural areas in Indonesia (Yustika 2003), the rural economies in the study area also had a large proportion of respondents (83.08%) who were more likely to work on the farm. This finding was in line with the fact that agriculture was the largest sector in Glagah, absorbing about 43.80% of Glagah labor forces (BPS 2010). Land holdings in the study area also supported this result where respondents possessed rice fields 3,173 2,337 m2. Working on the farm did not require much capital or formal education and only required a low level of skills. Thus, it was understandable why farmers chose certain occupations in terms of their educational background. Most cultivated crops grown on rice fields were rice and maize. Farmers usually cultivated rice and local varieties of maize for home consumption and sale. Rice and maize were alternated, but depending on the farmers whether they chose to place rice twice a year or maize two times a year, or one year maize alternated with one year rice. Dry land was used on a much smaller scale for intercropping maize with cassava, chili, green beans, soybean and peanuts. A mixture of perennials, including firewood trees (gliricidia), industrial crops (coffee, bamboo) as well as fruit trees (durian, jackfruit, coconut, mango, and banana), was grown by farmers on their home gardens.

Another result indicated that the average number of family labor was 3.53 0.87 AWE. Subagiyo (1996) stated that a person between 15 and 65 years of age was defined one AWE, meanwhile children aged 10 and 15 years as well as people over 65 were classified as 0.5 AWE (Subagiyo 1996). This family labor comprised husband, wife, and a child in productive age. Respondents used their own family member in cattle keeping management. Especially the husbands were responsible for forage searching, breeding and cattle selling. Meanwhile, the wife and children were normally responsible for cattle feeding.

In terms of farming experience, the results showed that respondents had more than 15 years of farming experience on average. This farming experience was derived from their parents for ages. Murray-Prior et al (1999) argued that farmers, who are more experienced farmers and have lower levels of formal education, might be more reluctant to upgrade their farming skills because they were already satisfied with their level of skill.

Rambon cattle keeping management

Table 2 presents Rambon cattle keeping management of the farmers consisting of aim of keeping cattle, cattle ownership number and status, cattle keeping strategies, cattle feeding practices and cattle reproduction methods. Natural mating service was more likely to be the most option for the farmers (60%) in terms of breeding method as compared to artificial insemination (AI).

Table 2: Rambon cattle keeping management






Aim of keeping cattle:




1. Used as draught animal power to cultivate land




2. Used as a form of saving








Average cattle ownership in Animal Unit (AU)




Cattle ownership status:




1. Owned cattle




2. Shared cattle




3. Owned and shared cattle








Keeping strategies




1.  Keeping at home




2.  Grazing




3.  Combination of both keeping at home and grazing








Feeding practices




1.  Cut-and-carry feeding




2.  Communal grazing








Reproduction methods




1.  Natural mating




2.  Artificial insemination (AI)




3.  Combination of both natural mating and AI







 The results showed that the majority of the respondents (63.08%) raised Rambon cattle as animal draught power to cultivate land. This finding was consistent with previous investigations in Indonesia by Subagiyo (1996); Sudardjat and Pambudy (2003) or Nugroho and Winarto (2005) where the main objective of the farm households keeping cattle were more likely to provide draught power to cultivate land. Similarly, another study in Zimbabwe performed by Chawatama et al (2005) found that the main motivation for keeping cattle was for draught power. In addition, Bruinsma (2003) estimated that about half of the total cropped area in developing countries was cultivated using animal draught power. The use of cattle for land cultivation in the study area was in line to the land ownership of the respondents which were averaging less than 0.5 hectares. No respondents were found using tractors to cultivate land because the land topography were mainly located on the slope areas. In addition, the price for renting tractors was more expensive. Respondents in the study area indicated that cattle were the entry point to agricultural production. It would be difficult to engage meaningfully in agricultural production without having cattle. However, Rambon cattle were kept not only for their function to provide animal draught power, but also to accumulate assets obtained from their growth and off spring. Another finding showed that saving was another motivation for respondents to raise Rambon cattle (36.92%). Respondents referred to their cattle as a saving that gave security. The form of saving meant that by selling cattle, respondents were able to enter into the cash economy that can be used to cover major expenses incurred in the household cycle, such as to have a religious festivities, to have a wedding feast, to build or renovate a house, and to rent or buy new land. By raising cattle, respondents also had financial benefit to fulfill unpredictable expenses (e.g. medical costs). Thus, Rambon cattle farming practices provide increased stability in income for the family without disrupting other food-producing activities. Respondents were likely to avoid borrowing some money from the local bank although this is another alternative for the respondents at that moment. As mentioned earlier, respondents mostly had low education level and even some of them were illiterate. Hence, they felt that earning some money from the local bank was a complicated procedure. For example, they should give the local bank officer something as payment insurance (e.g. copy of land ownership certificate as a collateral). In addition, respondents did not want to borrow from the informal money lenders due to its high interest rate.

In relation to the cattle ownership, the result found that on average, respondents had 1.61 Rambon cattle or similar to 1.09 Animal Unit (AU). This type of cattle ownership structure consisted of 1 mother and 1 calf. Thus this low cattle ownership of respondents could be categorized as smallholder farming practices. However, respondents who kept Rambon cattle for animal draught power to cultivate land purposes owned minimum a pair of females Rambon cattle. The low number of cattle ownership of the respondents was due to its secondary activity to support primary activities in growing crops. Rambon cattle were kept by smallholder farmers as an element in their mixed farming system. In general, respondents in the study area did not consider Rambon cattle keeping as an important activity to be commercialized. In spite of this, they were more likely to concentrate on agricultural production which has been done for generations.

Another finding indicated that the majority of respondents (78.46%) owned their cattle and only a small proportion of them (12.31%) kept Rambon cattle of other households (tenants). Although there was no written sharing contract, nevertheless the conditions of sharing were well defined. The cattle owners and tenants usually had a general agreement that the off spring would be shared on a fifty-fifty basis between the cattle’s owner and the tenants. Respondents mentioned that cattle for sharing were able to be obtained from the better-off farmers in the village.

The keeping strategies showed that farmers mostly (86.15%) kept the cattle at home. Respondents usually keep their Rambon cattle in the backyard which was close to house and mainly attached to the house. These cattle were kept at home by giving feed regularly. In the village Kemiren, respondents had practically no access to either grown pasture or common grazing land. No land was specifically allocated for forage. Therefore, the cut-and-carry feeding practice was very common in the village. The common types of forage used include native grass, maize leaves, and rice straw. Respondents collected these forages from various sources in the village including roadsides, riversides, terraces, forest edges, and borders of the fields. The feeding frequency varied from one to three times a day as amount 30-60 kg forage. Rambon cattle were likely much dependent on crop residues and by-products. The main source of crop residues and by-products were derived from rice and secondary crops. As rice field dominated the structure of land ownership in Kemiren, crop waste particularly rice straw were abundant in the village and respondents fed it to their cattle. Nevertheless, access to these resources was limited by seasonal availability and inadequate yield relative to animal requirement. Respondents, therefore, supplemented with forage from tree crops to tackle shortage of feed, particularly in the dry season.

With regard to breeding method, most respondents (60%) were more likely to opt natural mating. Respondents argued that natural mating service was inexpensive and easier to access for 24 hours in the village rather than artificial insemination (AI) method. For example, respondents usually paid IDR 15,000 or paid in the form of forages to the bull owner instead of cash payment. In case of natural mating, farmers had to take their animals to the bull owner who also lived in the same village. Thus, natural mating method was considered to be the best because it was able to provide opportunity for respondents to maintain the genetic purity of Rambon breed. In the contrary, fewer respondents (32.31%) accepted AI for conception because they did not know the performance of the bull. According to the AI officer in Glagah sub-district, the bulls which produced semen were Bali cattle. In addition, farmers argued that AI was more time consuming because they had to contact with the AI officer who lived a little bit far in another village. So farmers had to leave or suspend other farm activities for some time which was usually not affordable by the farmers.

Economic value of Rambon cattle

Table 3 shows the calculation of economic values of Rambon cattle practices. The cost of production input comprised fixed cost and variable cost. The fixed cost was defined as total expenses which did not depend on the amount of production input while the variable cost was all expenses which were influenced by the amount of production input. Revenue was defined as selling price multiply with per unit of output.

Table 3. Rambon cattle economic calculation





Fixed Cost


a. Depreciation of cage


b. Depreciation of equipment


c. Taxes


Sub-total fixed cost



Variable Cost


a. Cattle purchasing


b. Feed


c. Labor


d. Vitamin or traditional herbal


e. Mating method (Artificial Insemination and Natural Mating)


f. Electricity


Sub-total variable cost



Total Cost (Fixed cost + variable cost)



Average Revenue



Cattle value



Selling cattle or calf



Total Revenue



Average Income= Average Revenue – Total Cost


IDR=Indonesian Rupiah

By considering the fact that Rambon cattle kept by respondents were more likely to be secondary activity to support primary activities in growing crops, the efficient economic calculation were often neglected by smallholder farmers, particularly the use of production input. The study found that the average production cost to raise Rambon cattle was estimated as IDR 4,492,425.26. An investment worth IDR 4,373,076.92 in the form of Rambon cattle was the largest contributor (97.34%) to this production cost. One US dollar was considered as equal to IDR 11,500 based on available currency rate in September 2013. Little production cost was incurred in rearing these cattle, particularly cost for feed and labor. Labor cost was not included as production cost since respondents were more likely to use their family members as labor in raising cattle. Feed forage was also not considered as production cost because respondents only utilized weeds or crops residue to feed their cattle. In addition, respondents never used supplement, mineral or bought concentrates because it was considered expensive. In terms of breeding methods, respondents used both natural mating services and artificial insemination.

In relation to revenue, farmers earned the average revenue as IDR 6,203,076.93. The revenue of Rambon keeping practices was derived from the actual price of cattle selling activities for one year and the estimated value of existing cattle in the time of the study. Following Ayalew et al (2003), actual price was calculated for marketed cattle, and estimated cattle value was applied to subsistence transactions. Rambon cattle could be sold in the livestock market or through middlemen living in the village. The selling price was determined by estimating the physical appearance of the cattle.

The economic value indicated that the average income of the farmers gained from Rambon cattle keeping practice was IDR 1,699,606.80. Income derived from Rambon cattle keeping practices was calculated from actual costs and output. Although the income was considered low, Rambon cattle have played an important role in supporting household family income at the micro level. The income as well as meat production derived from Rambon cattle farming are able to be increased by maintaining two extra animals particularly for the farmers with the highest amount of land. Farmers with wider land will have enough space to keep more animals and generate more feed resources. However, as generally known in the study area that cattle with better physical appearance have better selling price, farmers who cannot increase the amount of animals can increase meat output by improving their management skills of feeding and reproduction.



Performing field research and writing this article can only be done with the help and support of others. We have experienced this help from many persons. It is quite impossible to mention all of them by name. Our profound gratitude is directed to the farmers in the village Kemiren who patiently bore all our interruptions and questions. Cost of this study was fully covered by the Directorate General of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture - Republic of Indonesia through Program Hibah Kompetensi (PHB) projects.


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Received 25 September 2013; Accepted 9 October 2013; Published 1 November 2013

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