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Bali Blog - Article About Bali Holiday Island

Cows in Bali as home farming

3 September 2008

In Bali there is a lot of home farming. Most of the people have cows, pigs, and chicken at home. The cow is usually fed by the farmer, the pig by the housewife and the chicken by any family member. In this article we focus on the cow; which is one of the most important animals in Balinese culture. A cow gives economical advantages to Balinese families as it grows from being a calf to a cow, when a cow gives birth to a calf this is an extra income to a farming family; but more than that, the cow is also utilized to cultivate the rice fields, as its " droppings" are organic fertilizers. Different to overseas cows, the Balinese cow does not produce milk for drinking. Balinese beef is often sold outside the island and it is very popular since it has less fat, not surprising since cows work so hard in the rice fields.

Everyday almost 100 cows are sent to Jakarta for sale and it has been this way for more than 50 years. Generally Hindu people donít eat beef as the cow is considered holy. It is believed that cows are used as the form of transport for the god Siva (Shiva, the reformer) and in view of this priests or " Pemangku" (the men leading ceremonies in the temples), do not eat their meat. Most Balinese people feel uncomfortable about eating beef as they think it will give them an allergy such as getting an itchy skin or headaches. For many beef is just simply to expensive to buy so by selling the cows instead of eating them it allows people to buy chicken, vegetables and other nutritious food that are much more economical.

The number of cows on Bali is still increasing cows, even outnumbering people (but not bikes). This has greatly to do with fact that most of the Balinese people are farmers. They still cultivate their land traditionally with most of the farmers in Bali having at least two cows. A cow can give birth once a year with a nine month pregnancy and a healthy cow can give birth for up to 8 or 10 times so it is not surprising that farmers keep the calves until they are quite big and ready to replace their mother. After that, the farmer will sell the older cow. Economically speaking, every month the farmer can earn at least Rp 100.000 per cow. It is not so difficult or costly to feed the cows as they just eat grass and green leaves. Farmers try to make their cows survive until the raining season comes again and if the cows get skinny for a while is not considered a problem. In Balinese culture prices are discussed. Any one will ask you how much you paid for something. Mainly for people to have a small conversation and also to keep themselves informed about current prices. So how much for a cow? An adult cow can cost between 4 to 5 million rupiah depending on the weight, condition and age of the animal. Farmers believe that cows bring - them good luck so choosing the best cow is important. A female calf can be sold for 1.5 up to 2 million rupiah while a male calf will be sold for 3.5 up to 4.5 million.

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