Livestock Research for Rural Development 19 (9) 2007 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD News

Citation of this paper

Physical characteristics, productive and reproductive performances of comparatively high yielding Deshi Cattle of West Bengal, India

A Sarkar, K C Dhara, N Ray*, A Goswami** and S K Ghosh

Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata-700 037, West Bengal, India
* Department of Veterinary Pathology, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences
**Distance Education Department, Kalyani University
drkeshabdhara@Rediffmail.com

Abstract

The present study consisted of the data of total 186 dairy cattle collected during the months of early March to late June 2003 from three different agro-climatic zones of West Bengal from where reports about the existence of comparatively high productive non-descript (Deshi) cattle have been received.

Coat colours of the cattle have been found namely black, brown, grey and white. Almost all the animals were found to having black muzzle, black eyelid, black to grayish hoof and black, brown to white colour tail. The animals have medium and small size hump, dewlap and naval flap with docile to moderate basic temperament. The average chest girth, body length and height at wither of the animals studied in around 51, 66 and 43 inches respectively without any significant variation. Reproductive performance of the animals studied was measured as average age at first oestrous and was 988 days, average age at first service 1027 days, average age at first calving was 1365 days and average calving interval was 453 days with out significant variation among different agro climatic zones. The animals in the study had an average daily milk yield and peak milk yield in the range of 3.59 kg and 4.44 kg respectively with an average of lactation length from 238 days and records from the different zones were similar.

The present study revealed that the variation in body conformation, coat colour and other physical characteristics in three agro climatic zones were almost non significant which seems to indicate genetic relation.

Key Words: Body conformation, Deshi cattle, productive performances, reproductive performances


Introduction

India has a total cattle population of 226.1 million, of which West Bengal accounts for about 18.27 million. Deshi cattle account for about 56.2 million in India and in West Bengal accounts for 5.20 million. Despite the enormous number of cattle, the per capita availability of milk is low indicating under developed genetic improvement and production (Nivsarkar et al. 2000). Over the years, intensification of animal husbandry and widespread introduction of exotic breeds has completely altered the animal genetic resource scenario. There is perceptible increase in a limited number of specialized breeds, while several indigenous livestock have suffered decline and degeneration over the years. The comparative lower productivity of the indigenous cattle is compensated by their lower feed consumption and higher disease resistance power. Hence the need for conservation of germplasm of indigenous breed has become a part of genetic security.

In context of the above mentioned facts it is of utmost importance to make a comprehensive study of the classification of Zebu Cattle, their adaptability, physical characters and reproductive characters, which can be an aid to future conservation measures.

The present study was made with the following objective

Materials and methods

The present study consisted of an analysis of data collected from three different agro-climatic zones of West Bengal from where reports about the existence of comparatively high productive non-descript (Deshi) cattle have been received.

The experimental sites and sampling technique:

The sites were selected purposively considering the need for availability of data. A total 185 dairy cattle were studied with 59 were from Zone - 1, 65 from Zone - 2 and 62 from Zone - 3.

Techniques of field data collection

There are some specific scientific methods to obtain field level data. The survey method based on the question and answer was used for the purpose. The prescribed format of National Bureau of Animal Genetics Resources (NBAGR, Karnal) for evaluation of breed under field condition (Animal Genetic Resources of India, Cattle and Buffalo, Page 277) was modified as per need of the study in the context of West Bengal.

As the study was based on the specific criteria about milk production (comparatively higher), the selection of animal was the first step of survey. The Block Animal Health Centers were taken as the key primary information source to gather primary information source to gather primary idea about the existence of such specific type of non-descript (Deshi) cattle yielding around 3 - 4 litters of milk per day. The immense interest of the working field veterinarians had given the moral support to the worker to conduct the survey. The questionnaire comprises of several aspect to know the animal as well as the owner of the animal. The socio- economic aspect of the study was given much importance as this part was closely related to fulfill the objective of whole study.

Field data collection

For the purpose of field data collection, the workers visited the villages and some key persons in each village were identified. The working veterinarians, apart from their routine engagement, magnanimously agreed to help in data collection. The data for present investigation were collected during the months of early March to late June 2003 considering the easy accessibility of the village and relative availability of the livestock owners. The format of the survey was used to collect data from selected cattle owners. The questions of the form were described in details to the livestock owners and the responses thus obtained were recorded. The workers conducted the interview. After noting down the name and address of the owner, the date of visit and a code number has been recorded for future use of the basic data. The format comprises of few parts such as:

a) General information

In this part, the information about the socio-economic status of the owner was taken into consideration. The parameters were like - Agricultural holding, Fodder grown, Profession, Annual income, No. of family members, No. of literate family members, No. of family members engaged in dairying etc. were noted down. This portion also contains question regarding the age of the cattle, the source of the cattle and if available, some information about the dam and sire of the animal.

b) Management practices

This part of the format asked questions related to the management practices of the cattle followed by the owner. Information about housing of the cattle, the ventilation system of the cattle house, the structure of the cattle house, the sanitary condition, the drainage system were studied. The feeding habits of the animal in study are having great importance. So, questions related to feed and feeding was asked in this part of the format. The timing, amount and quantity of feed and water were noted down very carefully after repeated asking. The breeding method generally followed by the cattle owner was asked to know the awareness of the owner about the genetic superiority of the exotic cattle and Indigenous cattle.

c) Physical characteristics

The most important technical portion of the format is the physical characteristics part. Here, the details information about the animals in study is required because for which the non-descript cattle could be well defined in a scientific manner. In this part, the hair characteristics, the colour of the coat, skin, muzzle, eyelids, hoof and tail were studied very carefully. The body conformation of the animal in study was also recorded in respect of hump size, dewlap size, and naval flap size. The basic temperament of the animal was also studied for certain hours (more than 2 to 3 hours) during the studied period and recorded to note whether it was docile, moderate, tractable or wild in temperament. The body measurement of the animal included the chest girth; body length and height at wither. The worker himself with the active help of the owner and the accompanying persons measured these three parameters. A measuring tape, graduated in inches scale was used for measuring purpose. All the body measurements were taken from the animal standing squarely on four legs and mean values were taken out of three readings. The workers estimated the overall body size and noted whether the animal in study was massive, large, medium or small.

d) Reproductive performances

This part of the questionnaire comprised of the data associated with the reproductive performance of the animal in study. The information of this part could neither be estimated, nor could be examined. For these data, the worker had to depend entirely on the owner and the other family members who were taking care of the animal in study. The following parameters were asked to determine the reproductive performance of the animal-

e) Production performances / Dairy performances

The most valuable part as far as economics of dairy cattle rearing is concerned is the production performance. By thorough interrogation of the owner, the data of this part was achieved. The parameters in quarries were:

Statistical methodology

Results and discussion

Physical characters
Colour pattern

Coat colour

In this study, 4 types of coat colours viz Black, Brown, Grey and White were observed. (Table 1).


Table 1.  Coat colour of the animals of the three zones

 

Black

Brown

Grey

White

Zone-1 (59)

14 (23.73%)

13 (22.03%)

7 (11.86%)

25 (42.37%)

Zone-2 (65)

19 (29.23%)

11(18.46%)

5 (7.69%)

29 (44.62%)

Zone-3 (62)

15 (24.19%)

11 (17.74%)

7 (11.29%)

29 (49.15%)

Overall

48 (25.81%)

36 (19.35%)

19 (10.22%)

29 (44.62%)

λ2

0.88

0.23

0.42

0.39


The present study reveals that the majority of those cattle was white (44.62%) followed by black (25.81%) while gray coat color (10.22%) was less predominant. Chi square test indicated that there was no zonal variation among coat colour of those   Deshi cattle. Various workers observed coat colour different breeds but there was no specific report regarding these   Deshi cattle to compare with the present study.

Muzzle colour

The muzzle colour of the animals studied was black (97.85%) in most of the findings with a few number of dark grayish colour (2.15%) of muzzle found. (Table 2)


Table 2.   Body colour of the Deshi cows in the three zones

 

Skin

Muzzle

Eyelid

Hoof

Tail

White

Black

Grey

Black

Black

Grey

Black

Brown

White

Zone-1

(59)

59

 

55

(93.22%)

4

(6.78%)

59

 

30

(50.85%)

29

(49.15%)

39

(66.10%)

8

(13.56%)

12

(20.34%)

Zone-2

(65)

65

 

65

 

0

 

65

 

24

(36.92%)

41

(63.08%)

42

(64.62%)

12

(18.46%)

11

(16.92%)

Zone-3

(62)

62

 

62

 

0

 

62

 

37

(59.68%)

25

(40.32%)

50

(80.65%)

4

(6.45%)

8

(12.90%)

overall

186

 

181 (97.85%)

4

(2.15%)

186

 

91 (48.92%)

95 (51.08%)

131

(70.43%)

24

(12.9%)

31

(16.67%)

λ2

0.29

0.74

 

0.21

2.79

3.85

1.59

4.00

0.84


Chi square test revealed no significant zonal variation among muzzle colour of those   Deshi cattle. The present study agrees with the findings of Nagarcenkar (1983) but his work was on Hariana breed of cattle, as the muzzle color is usually Black.

Eyelid colour

All the animals were found to have black eyelids in this study in all areas of survey. (Table 2) No significant zonal variation among eyelid colour of those   Deshi cattle was observed after Chi square test. Nagarcenkar (1983) also observed similar findings though in Hariana breed.

Hoof colour

Two types of hoof colours i.e. black and grayish have been found. In zone - 1, predominance of black (50.85%) and grey (49.15%) were similar where as black was less frequent than grey in zone - 2 which was again reversed in zone - 3 (Table 2). Chi square test revealed that there was no variation among hoof colour though they were in different agro climatic zone. Recording of different hoof colour of different breeds was available but there was no specific reference was found in the literature for make a comparison about the colour variation of hooves these  Deshi cattle.

Switch colour

The present study found the tail colour likely to be of Black, Brown and White. In the study of zone - 1 and 3 it was found that the black and white colour were more predominant than brown, where as in case of zone 2 black and brown were higher than white coloured tail (Table 2). There was no significant variation in tail colour as tested by chi square test. Though varieties of tail colour have no influence on productive and reproductive performances of Deshi cattle but it can identify this specific cattle. Nivsarkar et al (1992) recorded black tail colour of Tharparkar breed of cattle. However, no previous literature was found on tail colour on these  Deshi cattle and thus it is impossible to compare and make a conclusion.

Present study regarding colour pattern of these  Deshi cattle revealed that coat colour varieties found almost in same percentage except in zone -2 where black coat coloured was slight more while gray coat colour was less and black coloured hoof was less frequent than grey coloured hoof which might be due to less number of animals were observed. Although fewer number of observation of  Deshi cattle, present study gave a direction that there was uniformity regarding coat colour among these animals of different agro climatic conditions. Result of the present study confirmed that there might be some genetic relation among these  Deshi cattle which were primarily selected on the basis of comparatively higher milk production.

Body conformation

Hump size

The present study found two types of hump size in all of the zones. Medium (with in 3 to 8 inches) and small hump size (less than 3 inch) was found to be the most common feature of the animals. In zone - 1 and 3, the frequency of medium and small sized humps were almost same and where as in zone 2 the small sized hump was more frequent than the medium sized hump (Table 3).


Table 3.   Body conformation of the animals of three zones

 

Hump

Dewlap

Naval flap

Basic temperament

Med

Small

Med

Small

Med

Small

Docile

Moderate

Zone-1

(59)

36

(61.02%)

23

(38.98%)

41

(69.49%

18

(30.51%)

28

(47.46%)

31

(52.54%)

40

(67.80%)

19

(32.20%)

Zone-2

(65)

28

(43.08%)

37

(56.92%)

23

(35.38%)

42

(64.62%)

23

(35.38%)

42

(64.62%)

40

(61.54%)

25

(38.46%)

Zone-3

(62)

39

(62.90%)

23

(37.10%)

39

(62.90%)

23

(37.10%)

34

(54.84%)

28

(45.16%)

38

(61.29%)

24

(38.71%)

Overall

 

103 (55.38%)

83 (44.62%)

103 (55.38%)

83 (44.62%)

85 (45.7%)

101 (54.3%)

118 (63.44%)

68 (36.56%)

λ2

1.88

4.12

5.67

10.71**

2.14

2.78

0.07

0.75


Chi square test revealed that there was no variation among hump size though they were in different agro climatic zone. The result of this present study was agreed with the findings of Nivsarkar et al (2000). He described that obvious feature of zebu cattle is the presence of hump, which distinguishes it from the closely related Sanga cattle.

Dewlap size

The size of the dewlap of the animals under this study was found to be of 2 types viz. Medium (more than 6 inches and less than 12 inches) and Small (less tan 6 inches). In zone - 1 and 3, the frequency of dewlaps of medium size was greater than that of small dewlaps, but in zone 2 small size dewlaps were more frequent than medium (Table 3). Variation among medium sized dewlap in different agro climatic zones was not significant while small sized dewlap was significantly (p< 0.01) among different agro climatic zones. This significant result might be due to less number of observations. The present study was agreed with the findings of Nivsarkar et al (2000) who described that the presence of well developed dewlap is the obvious feature of zebu cattle.

Size of the naval flap

The present study recorded that the size of the naval flap of the studied animals was likely to be Medium (more than 4 inches and less tan 12 inches) to small (less than 4 inches) in size. In zone - 1and 3, the naval flap of medium size was more frequent than the small sized naval flap, but in zone 2 small size naval flaps was more frequent than the medium sized flap (Table 3). Chi square test indicated that there was no variation among naval flap size though they were in different agro climatic zone.

Basic temperament

It was found that two types of animals in the whole study as per the basic temperament of the animals is concerned viz. docile and moderate. In this study, in all zones, the docile animal was more frequent than the moderate animal (Table 3). There was no zonal variation on basic temperament among these cattle. Results of the basic temperament in the present study were in agreement with Banerjee (1991), that the different cattle of Indian origin are usually docile in temperament.

Body confirmation of these Deshi cattle under present study revealed that there was certain uniformity among these animals of different agro climatic conditions which indicating that there were might be some genetic relation among these Deshi cattle which were primarily selected on the basis comparatively higher milk production.

Body measurements of the animals

In the present study, measurements of the animals were taken to get the information about the body size of the animals under the study and it was observed that body measurement in three different agro climatic zone are almost same

Chest girth

The average chest girth of the animals studied was 51 inches. (Table 4)


Table 4.   Body Measurements (inches) of the Animals of the three zones

 

Chest girth

Body length

Height at wither

Zone-1 (59)

51 0.6

66 0.52

43  0.62

Zone-2 (65)

50 0.7

66 0.45

43 0.55

Zone-3 (62)

51 0.58

66 0.73

42 0.47

Overall  (186)

51 0.51

66 0.6

43 0.38

λ2

0.01

0.10

0.99


There was no zonal variation on chest girth as revealed by Chi square test. The findings was not agreed with the study of Krishna et al (1976) on Tharparkar cattle and Nivsarkar et al (1992) on Hariana cattle because these animals are heavier than Deshi cattle under present study.

Body length

The average body length of the animals under three zones was 66 inches without any significant variation. (Table 4) Findings of this study did not match with the findings of Nivsarkar et al (1992) on Tharparkar cattle and Joshi et al (1995) regarding Hariana cattle suggesting body characteristics that differentiate Deshi from Tharparkar and Hariana cattle. The Deshi cattle are smaller in size in comparison to the recognized heavy breeds of India. However there was uniformity among the Deshi cattle under present study whether they were of different agro climatic condition which might be due to some genetic relation.

Height at wither

The average height at wither of the animals under this study was between 43 inches. (Table 4) Chi square test indicated that variation in height at wither of the animals under this study was not significant among different agro climatic zones. The present study did not tally with Krishna et al (1976) and Nivsarkar et al (1992) for Tharparkar cattle and Joshi et al (1995) for Hariana cattle. Body characteristic of Tharparkar cattle or Hariana cattle was heavier than that of Deshi cattle.

Reproductive performances

Fertility is the ability of male and female animals to produce viable germ cells, mate, conceive and deliver normal living young. The lifetime productivity of a cow is influenced by reproductive performances like age at first oestrous, age at first Service age at first calving and calving interval.

Age at first estrous

The average age at first estrous was 988 days. (Table 5)


Table 5.   Reproductive performances of the animals of three zones

 

AFO, days

AFS, days

AFC, days

CI, days

Zone-1 (59)

989 8.55

1024 10.51

1373 10.89

451 6.76

Zone-2 (65)

993 9.13

1030 7.45

1357 10.71

448 6.78

Zone-3 (62)

982 10.58

1026 10.19

1366 10.70

462 6.42

Overall (186)

988 5.46

1027 5.50

1365 6.20

453 3.85

F value

0.36

0.11

0.55

1.27


The age at first estrous of the animals under this study was not significant among different agro climatic zones. The findings of this study could not be compared with any similar references due to lack of literatures.

Age at first service

In the present study, the result of average age at first service was reported about 1027 days. (Table 5) Analysis of variance indicated that there was no significant effect of different agro climatic zones on average age at first service. Misostov et al (1996) reported age at first service of heifers controlled in intensive dietary system was 12-14 months which is lower than present result. While Reddy et al (1995) said that age at first service of non-descript cows was 3.7 years which was quite higher.

Age at first calving

First calving marks the beginning of a cow's productive life. Age at first calving is closely related to generation interval and, therefore, influences response to selection. The average age at first calving in under this study was recorded as 1365 days. (Table 5) The effect of different agro climatic zones on age at first calving was not significant. The results of the study partly agreed with the records of Das (1988) of local cattle breeds of Assam. He found that the average age at first calving was 48.52 0.37 months in case of local cattle breeds of Assam.

Calving interval

The calving interval of studied Deshi high yielding cattle was reported 453 days with out significant variation among different agro climatic zones. (Table 5) Joshi et al (2001) reported 420 days calving interval of Sahiwal cattle which was quite lower than present result. However this result was partially agreed with the findings of Nivsarkar et al (1992) of red Sindhi cattle but exact literature was not available.

There was certain uniformity on reproductive performances of these Deshi cattle under present study among these animals of different agro climatic conditions, which indicating that there were might be some genetic relation among these Deshi cattle though they were primarily selected on the basis comparatively higher milk production.

Productive performances
Daily milk yield

In the present study, the animals were selected on the basis of the procured information with the criteria of comparatively higher daily milk yield. The records of the study about the average daily milk yield reveals in the range of 3.59 kg. (Table 6)


Table 6.   Productive performances of the animals of three zones

 

Daily milk yield, Kg

Peak milk yield, Kg

Lactation length, days

Zone-1 (59)

3.59 0.08

4.44 0.11

239 2.71

Zone-2 (65)

3.55 0.07

4.35 0.11

241 2.49

Zone-3 (62)

3.64 0.08

4.53 0.1

235 2.39

Overall (186)

3.59 0.04

4.44 0.07

238 1.47

F value

0.39

0.62

1.94


There was no significant zonal variation in daily milk yield performances of these cattle. Ohri and Singh (1970) and Joshi (1989) recorded the daily average milk yield of Rathi cattle to be 4.9 and 5.8 kg respectively which was slightly higher than present result. Mihsra and Pal (1999) opined that the Binjharpuri cattle of Orissa gives daily average milk yield of about 3.6 0.1 kg which was almost in agreement with present finding.

Peak milk yield

The peak milk yield of the animals under this study was recorded zone wise and it was found to be about 4.44 kg without any significant zonal variation. (Table 6) Findings of the peak milk yield of the present study resembled the lower limit of the study done by Dutta and Singh (1971) and Yadav and Rathi (1991) for Hariana cattle.

Lactation length

In the present study of the Deshi cattle of the West Bengal the average lactation length was recorded as 238 days and was not significantly varied in different zones. (Table 6) The records of the present study were somewhat similar with the findings of Das (1988) regarding the lactation length of the local cattle breed of Assam. Das (1988) reported that in case of the local cattle breeds of Assam, the lactation length was 256.75 10.89 days which was slight higher. Nivsarkar et al (1992) reported that the total location length of Red Sindhi cattle is 296 days with a range of 260-330 days. Though the lactation length was lower than most of the previous workers but their work was on specific recognized breeds as well as under farm condition.

In the present study there was no significant variation in productive performances of these Deshi cattle under present study among these animals of different agro climatic conditions though they were primarily selected on the basis comparatively higher milk production. This result is indicating that there were might be some genetic relation among these Deshi cattle.
 

Conclusions

Bibliography

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Received 16 February 2007; Accepted 2 July 2007; Published 4 September 2007

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