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Factors Associated with Body Weight Attainment in Calves on Smallholder Dairy Farms in Tanzania

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DOI: 10.4236/ojvm.2012.22011    3,551 Downloads   6,950 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

In order to investigate associations between individual calf parameters and/or herd management practices and dairy calf body weight (BW) attainment in smallholder farms in Tanzania, a prospective study was carried out at 121 farms in Mvomero and Njombe districts and included 156 crossbred dairy calves. Information on management factors and sources of calf drinking water were collected by personal observation and interview during four visits. At each visit, BW assessments were conducted by the same veterinarian and blood samples collected. The blood samples were analyzed for hematological parameters, total blood protein, glucose, and serum phosphorus and urea. Low BW was associated with smaller amount of milk fed to calves, early weaning, birth during the wet season, and well/tap water as the main water source (P < 0.05). Low blood total protein, high urea, low phosphorus and low hemoglobin concentrations were also associated with retarded growth. These findings identified and quantified some critical factors that can guide farmers in improving calf performance on smallholder dairy farms in Tanzania. To improve calf BW, the protein and mineral fraction of the roughage should be increased and water supply should be improved. In conclusion, appropriate changes in milk feeding routines and breeding management would also be expected to improve productivity.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

J. Chang'a, T. Løken, R. Mdegela and O. Reksen, "Factors Associated with Body Weight Attainment in Calves on Smallholder Dairy Farms in Tanzania," Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Vol. 2 No. 2, 2012, pp. 66-73. doi: 10.4236/ojvm.2012.22011.

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