Livestock Research for Rural Development 18 (2) 2006 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

Citation of this paper

The performance of Friesian x Boran bulls managed extensively under agropastoralism with indigenous Tanzanian zebu

N Y Msanga and J K A Bee

Livestock Research Institute, Box 5016, Tanga, Tanzania
ymsanga@rediff.com  ;   lrc@kaributanga.com

Abstract

F1 crossbred (Friesian x Boran) dairy bulls were introduced into the agropastoral production system where they were managed extensively with Tanzania Shorthorn Zebu (TSZ). The objective of the project was to evaluate the productive and reproductive performance of the bulls and their offspring with 25% Bos taurus blood. Twenty bulls were sent to farmers after vaccination against ECF and other management practices were according to common herd management procedures.

In the first three years the survival of the bulls was 80% and 62.5% in Lugoba and Handeni villages, respectively. Daily weight gain of bulls was 335 g/day and was significantly higher for Lugoba bulls. The mature weights of the bulls were 433 ± 7.4 and 447 ± 11.3 kg for Lugoba and Handeni villages, respectively. Of 269-recorded calves born to the herds of the agropastoralists by end of four years, the survival rate was 79.2%. the mean daily weight gain of calves was 241 g/d and significantly higher for Lugoba. At age of one year calves of F1 bulls were about 12 kg heavier than local TSZ calves, daily milk yield of fifteen offspring heifers ranged from 3 to 6 litres compared to 0.5 to 1.0 litres for the indigenous TSZ cows.

Key words: 25% Bos taurus blood, F1 crossbred, , reproduction, survival, weight gain.


Introduction

The majority of cattle in Tanzania belong to the East Africa Shorthorn Zebu (EASZ), which has low production (Williamson and Payne 1978). Lactation milk yields have been reported to range from 500 to 900 litres and mature weights from 200 to 365 kg (Msechu et al 1987). For the development of the dairy industry in Tanzania the common practice has been crossing of the local zebu cows to B. taurus dairy bulls (MOAC 1997). Most of the crossbreeding has been done in Livestock Multiplication Units (LMUs). The F1 female progeny are sold or loaned to farmers for production purposes. However, most of the F1 bulls are fattened for slaughter. This is usually the practice because the bulls are never used to breed with other zebu females. At present farmers usually use crossbred cattle of 50% Bos taurus blood which is necessary for the production of 7 litres of milk per day (Msanga 1997).

Farmers under agropastoralism practice low levels of management. However, with prevention of major diseases it is expected that cows with 25% Bos taurus blood can produce more milk than pure Zebu. As a fast means to improve the local Zebu there is urgent need to make use of the F1 bulls for this purpose. Under the extensive management system crosses with quarter exotic blood should be expected to be more productive than the pure bred Zebu. In a dual-purpose herd in Mexico, Parra-Bracamonte et al (2002) reported that crossbred cattle with less that 50% B. taurus inheritance produced 924 kg of milk per lactation. Under equal and satisfactory feeding management and health control regimes there were small differences in reproductive efficiency between Zebu and crossbred animals (Swenson et al 1981). A project on livestock improvement was conducted by the Livestock Research Centre Tanga and involved introduction of F1 crossbred (Friesian x Boran) in indigenous Zebu herds managed extensively under agropastoralism. The paper reports on the performance of the bulls and their offspring by local zebu cows from 1999 to 2003. The objective of the study was to evaluate the performance of F1 crossbred bulls kept by pastoralists with zebu herds and to evaluate the performance of crossbred dairy cattle with 25% Bos taurus inheritance.
 

Methodology

Farmers and Villages

An informal survey was conducted in villages in Bagamoyo ( Sub humid Eastern Tanzania) and Handeni ( Semi arid Eastern Tanzania) districts. From the survey, one village in Bagamoyo district (Lugoba) and two in Handeni district (Lengusero and Kwenjugo) were selected for the project. The major characteristics of these villages were that the farming system was agropastoralism and major type of cattle kept was the Tanzanian Shorthorn Zebu (TSZ). The major purpose of keeping the cattle was milk production though the farmers were not satisfied with the production level of their cattle. These villages had a reasonable access to the market for the milk so they were interested in increasing production. The informal survey was followed by a formal survey where a structured questionnaire was used to obtain some livestock production coefficients in 1999.

The F1 Bulls

The F1 bulls were crosses between Friesian and Boran produced at Mzeri ranch in Handeni district. The bulls were vaccinated against ECF before being sent to the farms; 12 bulls were sent to Lugoba and 8 to Handeni making a total of 20. The age of the bulls was around two years by the time they were sent to the farms. The bulls were to be managed with other cattle in the herd with regular dipping. Each bull was allowed to run with no more than thirty females.

Data collection

Monthly records collected included:

Regression equations developed at the Livestock Research Centre Tanga were used to estimate weights from heart girth (Msangi et al 1999)

For calves: y = 1.60 x - 362 (R2 = 0.83)

For bulls: y = 4.78 x - 447 (R2 = 0.96)

Where     y = Body weight in kg
               x = Heart girth in cm

Data analysis

The factor location and the covariant initial weight were used to analyse the daily weight gain of the bulls for their first year of life under farmers' management.

The general linear model procedure of SAS (1988) was used to analyse the effect of the factor season (wet or dry), location and sex on the daily weight gain of calves under 1 year of age

Simple ANOVA was carried on the proportion of calves that survived at each farm and how it was affected by location.

Evaluation of the Project by Farmers

In August 2003, farmers did an evaluation of the project whereby researchers from the centre visited each individual farmer. After individual farmers discussion, group discussion was conducted for farmers who kept the bulls in each village.


Results and Discussion

From the formal survey quantitative data on cattle production were obtained by interviewing 46 farmers. Table 1 presents the production coefficients of livestock of the three villages in 1999.

Table 1.  Production coefficients of livestock in 1999

Measure

Handeni

Lugoba

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Cattle herd size

88.6

6 1000

106

2 300

Small stock number

37.2

0 200

27.4

0 50

% Calf mortality

31.0

0 67

16.1

0 70

Weaning age, months 

7.6

6 12

9.5

4 18

Age at 1st service, years

3.2

2 5

2.2

1.8 2.5

Calving interval, years

1.2

1 2

1.2

1 2

The performance results obtained from the survey are similar to most reported work on the Small East African Zebu (SEAZ). Mwacharo and Rege (2002) reported calving intervals of 1.3 years on the SEAZ in Kenya, while Mukasa - Mugerwa (1989) reported calving interval of 1.5 years among the Malawian zebu. Age at first service of animals in Lugoba (sub humid) was one year earlier than in Handeni (semi-arid).

Performance of Bulls
Weights

Table 2 presents the least square means and standard errors for weight gain of bulls in the first year in each location. Weight gain by these bulls was found to be higher (335 vs 262 g/d) than that of crossbred beef steers raised at Kongwa and Mkata ranches (Saïd et al 2001), but similar to improved Zebu (Maule 1990).

Table 2. Least square means and Se of weight gain (g/day) of bulls

Location

Weight gain

SE

Handeni

244

66.5

Lugoba

392

58.3

Overall

335

36.3

Table 3 presents the weights of the bulls at different ages at the two sites. The weight of the bulls is higher than that of mature bulls of the Small EA Zebu (Msechu et al 1987). The mature weights of bulls are similar to those of improved cattle breeds or their crosses in the tropics (Maule 1990).

Table 3. Means and SE (kg) of bulls weights at different ages

Age, days

Lugoba

Handeni

n

Mean

SE

n

Mean

SE

A1

15

286

4.1

8

250

5.7

A1 + 350

10

380

17.6

5

359

9.3

A1 + 694

6

449

21.6

4

411

18.1

A1 + 1054

7

433

7.4

4

447

11.3

A1 is age when bulls were sent to farms approximately at 2 years

Performance of the offspring with 25% Bos taurus blood
Survival

Table 4 presents the number of calves born per location, deaths and the survival rates. The major causes of deaths were tick borne diseases especially ECF and anaplasmosis and mixed infections where trypanosomiasis was mixed with tick borne diseases.

Table 4. Survival rate of offspring at the two locations for 2 years

Location

Calves born

Deaths

Survival rate, %

Lugoba

131

34

74.0

Handeni

138

22

84.1

Overall

269

56

79.2

The results showed that calves at Handeni survived better than those at Lugoba and this reflects a lesser incidence of diseases. The survival rate of the young stock is lower or within reported ranges of grazing weaned calves (Msanga and Nduye 1991). The survival rates were, however, higher compared to crossbred calves under ranch conditions in Tanzania as reported by Said et al (2001).

The estimated weights of the young stock of the crossbred offspring with 25% B. taurus blood and TSZ stock are given in Table 5

Table 5. Least square means and SE (kg) for weights of crossbred and TSZ calves at different ages in 2002

Mean age, days

Crossbred calves

TSZ calves

n

Live weight

SE

n

Live weight

SE

24

33

28

3.1

13

21

4.9

96

56

50

2.4

5

44

7.1

160

96

60

1.8

16

62

4.1

280

79

74

2.0

27

68

3.0

340

74

88

2.0

8

76

5.9

520

130

111

1.5

-

-

-

In this study calves with 25% Bos taurus inheritance gained 241 g/d and this is very close to the value of 244 g/d for grazing crossbred dairy calves with higher Bos taurus blood in a station environment (Msanga 1997). The growth rate of calves was slightly higher than that of grazing Mpwapwa calves from weaning age of 70 days to 36 weeks (Msechu et al 1987). This shows that farmers' management was as good as in research stations.

Reproductive performance

The first heifer, which is offspring of the F1 bull, was mated at mean age of 20.4 months and estimated weight of 211 kg and this was at Handeni. The age at first calving of 30 months was younger when compared to age at first calving for pasture grazed heifers in state farms (LRC 2000).

By March 2004, there were 15 milking and 25 pregnant heifers and 17 offspring bulls were used for breeding. The daily milk yield ranged from 3 to 6 ltres compared to the local TSZ which ranged from 0.5 to 3.0 litres/d. Table 6 presents the age, heart-girth and weight of heifers at first conception.

Table 6.  Least square means (LSM) for age, heart-girth and weight of heifers at conception by location

Location

n

Age in weeks

Heart-girth, cm

Weight, kg

LSM

SE

LSM

SE

LSM

SE

Handeni

8

115

6.3

142

3.5

227

14.6

Lugoba

10

96

5.7

144

3.1

237

13.1

Overall

18

105

4.2

143

2.3

233

9.7

Milk yield of the offspring heifers is what should be expected for crosses between F1 and TSZ which is midway between the parents (7 + 1)/2 = 4.0 litres/d. This is a way forward for improving productivity of the cattle and at the same time improving human nutrition and income.

Evaluation of the Project by Farmers

The farmers appreciated the higher performance of the crossbred cattle and further added the following qualifications.

From the opinion of the farmers it is quite clear that they are very much interested in keeping the F1 bulls, as there were obvious benefits.


Conclusion


A
cknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge first the financial assistance given by the Tanzania government through the Tanzania Agricultural Research Project (TARP II). Cooperation afforded by members of staff, R Shekimweri and V G Mushi is highly appreciated. Finally but not least the cooperation from the farmers and the extension staff in Handeni and Bagamoyo districts is highly acknowledged.


R
eferences

LRC 2000 Reproductive performance of crossbred cattle in 2000. In the Annual Report of the Livestock Research Centre Tanga Tanzania 2000.

Maule J P 1990 The cattle of the tropics. Redwood Press limited, Melksham, Wilts pp 225.

MOAC 1997 Agricultural and Livestock Development Policy 1997. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Dar es salaam Tanzania.

Msanga Y N and Nduye A 1991 Calf survival in crossbred dairy cattle at Tanga Livestock Research Centre on Northern coast of Tanzania. Proceedings of the Tanzania Society of Animal Production 18: 142 - 147. Arusha, Tanzania.

Msanga Y N 1997 Smallholder Dairying in Northeast Coastal Tanzania. Productivity of crossbred cattle and calf rearing systems. Ph.D. Thesis University of Reading.

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Parra-Bracamonte M, Estrada R J, Magana J G, Delgado R and Segura-Correa J C 2002 Reproduction and productive evaluation of dual purpose herds in South Eastern Mexico. Responding to the increasing global demand for animal products. Proceedings of an International Conference by the British Society of Animal Science. Yucatan Mexico 12-15 November 2002.

Saïd R, Bryant M J and Msechu J K K 2001 Growth and survival of crossbred beef cattle in Tanzania. Proceedings of the Tanzania Society of Animal Production 28:126 -134.Arusha, Tanzania.

SAS 1988 Stastistical Analysis Systems Users Guide (SAS. Inc, Cary, NC).

Swensson C, Schaar J, Brannang and Meskel L B 1981 Breeding activities of the Ethio-Swedish integrated rural development project. Part III: Reproductive performance of zebu and crossbred cattle. World Animal Review 38:31-36.

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Received 18 October 2005; Accepted 29 November 2005; Published 8 February 2006

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