綠草無垠,牛壯羊肥恆春牧場

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1981 / 9月

文‧梅滋 圖‧楊永山


那是一片青蔥的大草原。柔軟的綠草綿延無盡,陡峭矗立、金字塔形的大尖山立於背後,似在護衛著生息於山腳下的牛隻羊群。微風輕拂草兒動,牛兒漫步羊兒馳,立於山腰,眼界拉得又寬又廣。在寶島台灣,竟也看得到這樣一幅「風吹草低見牛羊」的壯觀畫面!


最大的牧場,最美的草原

南台灣的恆春半島,中間是高低起伏的山地,三面是蜿蜒的海岸。浩海聳山,加上一路的熱帶作物與成列的椰子樹,交織成一幅美麗的自然景觀。

這裡擁有一系列著名的觀光區:墾丁公園、鵝鑾鼻、佳樂水、旭海……等,經常吸引大批的遊客南來觀光。但很少人知道,在墾丁公園的右側,有一幅台灣少見的牧場景觀:恆春牧場,那裡所舖蓋著的一望無際的綠,是多麼的悅目宜人!

恆春牧場其實不是觀光區,它正式的名稱是「台灣省畜產試驗所恆春分所」,隸屬於台灣省農林廳。

日據時代,這裡就已經是畜產試驗所了,專門從事各種牲畜的新品種育成及改良的工作。但那時開墾的範圍較小,大量種植牧草是民國五十年以後的事。

這是寶島最大的牧場,佔地達一一六七公頃。

育出品種最佳的肉牛

由於農業經營已走向機械化,過去在中國農業社會扮演極重要角色的:牛,已逐漸被各種現代化的農耕機器所取代。而牛的角色,也從過去的役工,逐漸變成供給肉類與奶品的牲畜。恆春分所所長程中江說:「台灣本地種的牛都是役牛,若充做肉食用,因養殖期長、肉少,飼養起來頗不划算。但另一方面,國內需求牛肉量很大,單靠進口很不經濟。因此,從民國五十七年開始,我們牧場的任務,就是培育品種優良且適合本地環境的肉牛,提供全台其他大小牧場及農家飼養。」

最佳的肉牛是:可在最短的飼養時間內,快速的生長與增重,且身上每一塊該有肌肉的地方都充分發育。最早,恆春分所是直接從國外進口優良種牛來繁殖,但由於地理環境、氣候、濕度、牧草品質的不同,優良品種的牛來到這裡,大多因水土不服,變得瘦弱、多病,甚至死亡。

民國六十年,試驗所改變策略,以本地種的黃牛和外國種牛交配繁殖,期望能生出具備黃牛耐熱、體健,且有肉牛快大、多肉長處的新品種來。

也因此,恆春牧場的牛,外型很特殊,端詳徜徉在牧場上的牛群,它們沒有黃牛的雄壯、結實,也不似肉牛的臃腫、笨拙,牧場工作人員說:「現在我們牧場的牛,大多是以黃牛和美國聖達種牛交配的後代,這是到目前為止,試驗出最適應台灣生長環境的新種牛。」

飼養與管理方式現代化

恆春牧場完全以粗放為主,不論雨季、旱季,牛兒都露天放牧,甚至懷孕生產都在大草原上解決。唯有為了控制品種,母牛都採人工受精。牧場在母牛的身上都裝了發情偵測器,偵測器變為紅色時,管理員就將牠趕回所堿I行人工受精,而後再趕回牧區。

牧場放牧採分區制,每區有十甲地,依牛的生長情形分類放牧,譬如:未懷孕的母牛分在一區,懷孕的集中在一區,生下仔牛的分在一區,專作肥育的公牛也集中一區放牧。區與區之間以鐵絲網隔開,每區有一個五尺長、一尺寬的水泥槽,供牛群喝水用。另外,每區還植有幾棵相思樹,供牛兒乘涼休息用,每一區由一個管理員負責。

母牛低頭吃草,仔牛跟在一邊吃奶的情景,是一幅溫馨動人的畫面。母牛的懷孕期約為兩百八十天,如果順產,從陣痛起三、四個小時後便產下小牛。在整個生產過程中,除非難產,獸醫幫不上什麼忙。臍帶在母牛的陣痛中自行拉斷,三、四天後便自行脫落。產下小牛後,母牛會舔乾小牛身上的黏液。五分鐘後,小牛便可站起身,隨著母牛身軀的移動找奶吃。

恆春牧場每年約可孕育三百五十頭的牛隻,不論性別,每年只留六、七十頭做種牛,其餘的推廣到民間飼養。推廣牛隻的年齡約為一歲左右。

抵犢情深,令人感動

仔牛長到十個月至一歲大時,必須斷奶,以保持母牛的營養和體力,以利次年按時懷孕。離奶時,管理員將母牛和仔牛一起趕回恆春分所,只花一天的時間便可分開大、小牛。母牛關上兩、三天後就放回草原上,仔牛卻必須再關一至二周,徹底適應以牧草為食的生活。

母牛想仔牛,小牛念母牛,這股孺慕親情原是天性。每逢離奶期,恆春分所的圈養欄奡N哞聲震天,不分晝夜的喊叫,有的是媽媽找孩子,有的則是孩子叫媽媽。住在所裡宿舍的員工,因此總要好幾天不得安眠。不但如此,管理人員還要預防母牛千里迢迢回來找仔牛,一位管理員說:「有的母牛為了找小牛,會猛力衝破藩籬,走上三、四公里的路,回分所來找小牛呢!」

在牧場裡,小母牛長到三歲大時就要負起孕育的責任。每年一孕,這項孕育優良後代的使命持續到十歲左右,然後被送入屠宰場,為人類作最後的貢獻。至於小公牛,除了品質良好的留作種牛,其餘的都送去肥育——儘量在最短的時間媥i得重又肥,送進屠宰場以饗人類。

通常牛隻成長到四歲左右,體重就不再增加。目前恆春牧場的牛隻,在兩歲時就達五百公斤的成熟體重了。

開啟山林,舖上綠氈

恆春山地多雜木林,經濟價值很差。恆春牧場為有效利用山坡地,每年旱季就從事整理坡地、種植牧草的工作。一片片雜樹林,在「怪手」機器的掃蕩下,連根拔起,被搬運下山。六個月後,取而代之的,就是一片青翠的牧草。

牧草品質的好壞,影響養牛事業至鉅。恆春分所過去曾以一百九十多種牧草對南台灣環境的適應性、抗病性、生產量與品質作研究,發現從夏威夷引進的盤固拉牧草,無論供作放牧或調製乾草,都很合適。

說起來,牛還真不是「大笨牛」,他們也會挑嘴。當管理員將牛群趕入一區放牧時,牛兒一定先挑牧草較細嫩可口的上部吃,嫩草都吃光了,才勉強回頭吃剩下的末端粗短的部份。

每當一區的牧草將吃盡時,管理員就將牛隻羊群趕至另一區。草被吃盡的牧區,施肥後,不需特別照顧,一個月中只要下上一、兩場雨,牧草又會有半個人高了。

但是並非所有的草地都做放牧用。由於冬天較乾旱,牧草生長不佳,無法充分供應牲畜食用,因此每年夏天都必須把一部份坡地的牧草,用機器採割,曬成乾草,而後再用機器打包,以備過冬。

除了近千隻的牛群,恆春牧場也養有羊兒兩百多隻。這裡最有名的羊種要數巴貝多黑肚綿羊,這是巴貝多總統訪華時,送給嚴前總統家淦,而寄養在牧場裡的。恆春牧場就黑肚綿羊的生長與繁殖不斷研究,希望能發展出以肉用為主的新品種。目前經過兩、三代的配種發展,已見績效。

自然給我們什麼,我們就用什麼

優良牧場的自然條件,一年的雨季通常需長達七、八個月,且需雨量平均、氣候溫和。若以此標準來衡量恆春牧場,則幾乎無一符合。

事實上,恆春牧場不但夠不上好牧場的標準,就是在台灣地區,亦屬自然環境最差的牧場。這裡除了夏天天氣酷熱,雨季集中在六至九月,十一月至四月是連續的乾旱季外,每年十月至翌年三月間,更有為期約五個月的東北季風,俗稱「落山風」。風速每秒達十至十七公尺,為害農作物至鉅,放牧牲畜亦難適應。

在如此惡劣的自然條件下,恆春牧場卻一天比一天發展起來:盈餘逐年增加,以去年為例,已有新台幣一千多萬元的收入,牧場不但可自給自足,員工還可分得許多紅利。這都是所內工作人員終年辛勤工作,不斷致力於研究改良品種、種植牧草、儲存草料、大量繁殖……等所得的成果。

三十出頭的年輕所長程中江說:「我們認為在這最惡劣的條件下,做試驗配種繁殖的工作反而是最恰當的。因為這些牛隻在最壞的條件下都待得下去,移到任何地方飼養,就都不會有問題了。」

順應自然,才能育出最健強的品種

程中江和太太朱友梅,都是畜牧專家,他們從澳洲留學回國後,就攜手到恆春牧場為台灣的畜牧事業盡心獻力。任職所長三年來,程中江一直認為,在大自然的環境中,尋思克服困難、適應環境的辦法,乃是上策,如能勝過,於是一勞永逸,育成的品種即健康、強壯、適應力強,可以大量繁衍。以搭棚,或吹電扇、冷氣來養殖肉牛,都是違反自然且不經濟的做法。

試驗所恆春分所的工作人員共有八十幾位,除半數為就近聘請的管理員和技工外,其餘的研究員和各級主管,都是來自全台各地學有專精的畜牧人才。

試驗所前的柵欄堙A還養著幾匹以前留下來的老牧馬,年老體衰,只能供人觀賞了。由於缺乏經濟價值,恆春牧場未在養馬一事上多費心血或人力。

牧馬不騎了,改乘機動化的交通工具。我們坐著吉普車上到山腰,放眼望去,只見牧童、牛仔(管理員)正騎著摩托車吆喝牛群上山坡,程所長說:「科技文明的進步,幫助我們更迅速的化牧草為牛肉,但也因此改變了傳統牧場的景觀。」

即使如此,上山遠眺,入眼盡是清新悅目的綠,加上藍天、白雲,與徜徉草原上千百的牛羊,仍是久居都市者嚮往、喜愛的美麗景觀。

〔圖片說明〕

P.2

恆春牧場,位於南台灣恆春半島大尖山下,正式名稱是「台灣省畜產試驗所恆春分所」,是全台最大的牧場。所長程中江和太太朱友梅,都是從澳洲留學回國的畜牧專家,他們帶著兩個小孩生活、工作於牧場中。

P.4、P.5

圖1:牧場放牧採分區制,每區有十甲地,依牛的生長情形分類放牧,區與區之間以鐵絲網隔開,每區有一個管理員。圖2:由於冬天旱季牧草不足,每年夏季都必須留存一部份牧草曬乾,而後用機器壓成方塊,以備過冬。圖3:冬天時,牧場牧草不足,牛隻們被趕回所裡食用夏天儲存的乾草。圖4:除了牛群,恆春牧場也有羊兒兩百多隻,這是巴貝多總統訪華時送給嚴前總統,而寄養在牧場裡的。

P.6、P.7

圖1:恆春牧場在日據時代以放牧馬匹為主,今天雖然牧場改以牧牛為主,但牧場堣揖i看到幾匹年邁的老馬。圖2:在每個放牧區裡,都有幾棵大樹供牛群乘涼。圖3:這是將美國肉牛聖大牛和台灣黃牛交配成的聖黃種牛,體大多肉,又能適應本地的氣候,現正由恆春牧場大量繁殖中。圖4:公牛長大到相當程度,就成群趕回所裡,作肥育工作。

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EN

South to Cowboy County


Close to the tip of southern Taiwan there is a small town cradled by mountains on three sides and open to the sea on the other. Hengchun is noted for its tropical vegetation, rocky coastline, green rice-fields and groves of coconut trees.

Apart from being the gateway to a famous tourist resort, Hengchun, whose name means "permanent spring" in English, is also the headquarters of the Taiwan Live-stock Research Institute. Here, experiments are carried out to produce better and newer animal and farm products.

As the ox, traditional beast of burden in China, is being replaced by modern agricultural machinery, it is increasingly being used as a source of meat. Yield, however, is low, and research workers at the Hengchun center have been conducting experiments to improve it. As demand for protein has risen in line with higher living standards, a cheaper way of raising cattle has to be found in light of Taiwan's climate.

The ranch hands at the center have an arduous life. They have to tend the herds whatever the weather, and even handle such medical problems as births, on the open plains. They must also be familiar with the latest methods of artificial insemination.

Cows deliver three or four hours after labor begins, following a gestation period which usually lasts for 280 days. All deliveries are done without the assistance of a veterinarian, unless there are special problems. After the calf is born, the mother will sever its umbilical cord and lick it clean before helping it to find milk. About 350 head of cattle are raised each year, of which 60 or 70 are used the following year for breeding.

At 10 months to a year, the calves are separated from their mothers. The cows can then be put out to pasture, although the bulls must be given one or two weeks before they get used to eating grass in the field.

During this period, it becomes apparent that cattle have human traits. The cows appear to miss their calves, and vice versa. The noise of their lowing can be heard all night, and sometimes causes pangs of conscience even among the hardened cowboys. "Some cows will break out of their pens and travel for quite a distance in search of their offspring," one ranch hand said.

Out in the field, the cows eat the green tender shoots first before they will settle for the coarser grass. Before the pasture becomes overgrazed, the cattle are taken to another area and fresh seeds are planted. After a few rainfalls, the field is back to its former glory, with grass up to two or three feet tall.

For the best results in ranching, there should be rain for seven or eight months a year. The climate at Hengchun, therefore, is far from ideal. There are high temperatures for most of the year. The rainy season lasts from June to September, while there is a long dry season from November to April. Seasonal winds which last from November to March are strong and steady.

Even with these difficulties, Hengchun center's income continues to rise. Last year, earning reached US$250 million, and a profit-sharing program was introduced for workers.

A soft carpet of green grass extends as far as the eye can see, mountains rise steeply in the distance, forming natural barriers for the grazing animals, and cowboys happily sing songs as they go about their work. These comprise the beauty of Hengchun.

[Picture Caption]

Hengchun Ranch, located on the peninsula at the southern tip of Taiwan is officially named the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute. The ranch head and his wife are livestock experts who studied in Australia. They have two children who also help out.

1. The ranch is divided into pastures by barbed wire. 2. Winters are oft en dry, so grass has to be made into hay and baled during the summer. 3. Cattle are herded together for feeding during the winter. 4. In addition to cattle, more than 200 sheep are raised at the ranch.

1. Horses which used to be raised exclusively on the Hengchun ranch can still be seen among the cattle which now predominate. 2. Large trees on the ranch provide a refuge for cattle. 3. This is the result of cross-breeding between American and Taiwan cattle. The meat is plentiful, and the animal adjusts easily to Taiwan's climate. 4. A large bull.

 

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