Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (8) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Comparative reproductive performance of Horro (Zebu) with Horro x Friesian and Horro x Jersey females in sub humid environments of Bako

Gizaw Kebede, Mulugeta Kebede, Tesfaye Midexa and Sisay Eshetu

Bako Agricultural Research Center, P. O.Box 3, Bako, Ethiopia.
gkebede53@gmail.com

Abstract

Reproductive traits of Horro and their crosses with Friesian and Jersey females were compared. Two thousand nine hundred thirty three, 282 and 280 data of Horro, Horro-Friesian and Horro-Jersey cows; 1804 and 1691 data for dry and wet seasons; 1716 and 1755 data of breeding by bull and artificial insemination respectively were used in the study.  Horro cows had mean intervals from calving to first heat of 72.4 days (range 15-253) and from calving to conception 119.2 days (range 57-317). Similarly Horro x Friesian cows had mean intervals from calving to first heat of 77.8 days (range 17-247) and from calving to conception 123 days (range 66-277). Horro X Jersey cows had mean intervals from calving to first heat of 66.3 days (range 16-216) and from calving to conception 108.6 days (range 43-285). No significant differences were found between the breeds in the number of services per conception, gestation length and days to conception. However Horro X Jersey crosses had the shortest interval to first heat and days open and required less number of services per conception than the other breeds. Calving to first service interval did not vary among breeds. The influence of season of calving on the number of services per conception and days open was significant (p<0.05). Significant differences (p<0.05) were also found between the two breeding types, artificial insemination and bull, in the number of services per conception. The number of services per conception for cows served by bull and artificial insemination were 1.76 and 2.09 respectively. 

Key words: crossbred cows, reproductive traits, zebu cows


Introduction

The important economical traits in female cattle include milk yield, lactation length, and age at first calving, days open, calving to first heat and services per conception. In the tropics and sub tropics the introduction of genes from European breeds has increased the milk yield of cows, through exploitation of hybrid vigor. This has been justified when feed resources and health care were improved.

Horro (HH) cattle, an intermediate sanga-zebu, of medium to large in size, are found widely distributed in western part of Ethiopia. These cows are used as dual purpose animals (milk and meat) and are low milk yielders. The Horro females have been crossed with Friesian and Jersey sires at Bako Agricultural Research Center with the objectives of improving milk yield. But informations on the effect of crossbreeding (indigenous x exotic) on reproductive performance were in general in-consistent and limited. Almost all reports agree on reduced age at first calving in crossbred cows (Galal 1981, Eniyew 1999). Variable results were obtained on factors affecting the number of services per conception and gestation length (Azage et al 1981, Goshu 1983, Gebeyehu 2005) and little or no information is available on calving to first heat interval.

In this work an analysis was made in some components of reproductive traits between Horro (zebu), Horro x Friesian (HF) and Horro x Jersey (HJ) with the data obtained from Bako Agricultural Research Center. 


Material and methods

Study site

The study was carried out at Bako Agricultural Research Center, Ethiopia, longitude 37 09’ E, latitude 09 06’ N and an altitude 1650 m above sea level. The center is located 257 km west of the capital city, Addis Abeba.

Climate

On station meteorological data over the period of forty two years indicated that the mean minimum, mean maximum and average temperatures were 14, 28 and 21C respectively. The meteorological station is located at Bako Agricultural Research Center. The rain fall pattern is bimodal with short rains in March/April. The rainy season covers May to September. The mean annual rain fall is about 1243.7 mm with peak rain in August. 

Animals 

Reproduction records of three hundred fifty four Horro and Horro crosses with Friesian and Jersey sires were obtained from Bako Agricultural Research Center (2000-2005), Ethiopia. All animals were herded on natural pastures for about seven hours during the day and enclosed in barns at night. During grazing animals were run together depending on age, sex, pregnancy and lactation stage.

Heat detection and breeding

The herd was observed for heat two times a day (early morning and late afternoon) in the barn. Upon heat detection, cows and heifers were artificially inseminated (AI) or served by bull. Calving occurred all year round. After calving, cows were inseminated after 45 days. 

Pre and postpartum cow management 

From conception up to 7 months of pregnancy, cows remained grazed on natural pasture after which they were kept indoors where they were offered roughage (corn silage, Rhodes and cynadon hay) and concentrate feed ( a mix of noug cake 49%, ground maize 50% and salt 1%). Animals also grazed on fallow lands and on crop lands after harvest. After calving the calves stayed with their dams for about 5-7 hours. The calves were then weighed, tagged and bucket milk fed twice a day until weaning. The dams remained in the barn for the first five days during which they were provided with silage, hay and concentrate meal and joined the milking herd afterwards.

Pastures on the grazing areas are predominantly hyperhenia (hyperhenia anamesa), Sporobolus (Sporobolus praminmidales), Cynadon (Cynadon dactylon), and legumes such as Neonotonia (Neonotonia wights), Stylosanthes species and desmodium species. The pasture was neither irrigated nor fertilized. Daily concentrate supplement of about kg was given to each lactating cow prior to milking. 

Data analysis

The general linear models from SAS (1996) were used for the analysis of the data. The effects of breeding type (AI, bull), breed and season of calving on days open, calving to first heat interval, gestation length and services per conception (NSC) was investigated. Breeding type, breed and season of calving were considered as independent variables where as days open, calving to first heat interval, gestation length and NSC were taken as dependent variables. 


Result

Type of breed did not significantly influence days open, NSC, gestation length and the interval from calving to first heat. These are indicated in Table 1.

Table 1. Mean values of reproductive traits by breed

Trait

Breed

n

Mean

Calving to first heat interval (days)

HF

84

79.8

 

HJ

75

66.3

 

HH

735

72.4

                                                             SEM

7.61

                                                                 P

0.305

Days open (days)

HF

66

123

 

HJ

55

109

 

HH

626

134

                                                             SEM

40.9

                                                                 P

0.811

Services per conception (No)

HF

66

1.97

 

HJ

78

1.92

 

HH

810

2.00

                                                             SEM

0.579

                                                                P

0.183

Gestation length (days)

HF

66

283

 

HJ

72

282

 

HH

762

281

                                                             SEM

2.29

                                                                 P

0.741

Calving to first heat interval and days open were shorter in Horro-Jersey than in the other breeds. The percentage of cows showing estrus with in 80 days postpartum for Horro, Horro-Friesian and Horro-Jersey cows were 61.5, 55.6, 69.2 respectively. Additionally fewer numbers of services per conception were noted for Jersey crosses than Horro and Horro-Friesian crosses. But gestation length was slightly longer in the crossbred cows than the local Horro cows.

Season of calving had an effect on the NSC (p<0.01) and days open (p<0.05) and did not show any effect on the interval from calving to first heat and gestation length. These are given in Table 2.

 Table 2. Mean values of reproductive traits by season of calving

Trait

Season

n

Mean

Calving to first heat interval (days)

Wet

407

69.6

 

Dry

487

74.2

                                                         SEM

4.38

                                                               P

0.066

Days open (days)

Wet

364

119 b

 

Dry

383

149a

                                                        SEM

46.6

                                                               P

0.028

Services per conception (No)

Wet

437

1.94b

 

Dry

517

2.03a

                                                         SEM

0.816

                                                               P

0.041

Gestation length (days)

Wet

483

282

 

Dry

417

282

                                                         SEM

1.22

                                                               P

0.566

Means for a trait with in a column with different superscripts are significantly different, p<0.05

There were fewer NSC in the wet season than the dry season (p<0.05). There was little variation in the interval from calving to first heat and gestation length between cows that calved in the dry and wet season. Significant variation (p<0.05) was observed in the days open between cows that calved in the dry and wet season, with longer days open for cows that calved during the dry season. Breeding type significantly (p<0.05) influenced the NSC as indicated in Table 3.  

 Table 3. Mean values of reproductive traits by breeding type

Trait

Breeding type

n

Mean

Calving to first heat interval (days)

B

432

69.4

 

AI

429

72.4

                                                             SEM

4.44

                                                                 P

0.562

Days open (days)

B

321

110

 

AI

381

118

                                                             SEM

32.1

                                                                 P

0.478

Services per conception (No)

B

501

1.76b

 

AI

489

2.09a

                                                             SEM

0.146

                                                                P

0.038

Gestation length (days)

B

462

283

 

AI

456

282

                                                              SEM

1.25

                                                                 P

0.542

Means for a trait with in a column with different superscripts are significantly different, p<0.05 
B=bull, AI= artificial insemination

The NSC was smaller when using bulls than AI. Otherwise breeding type did not have an effect on the interval from calving to first heat or days open.


Discussion

Mekonen et al (1993) reported that crossbreeds required less NSC than the local Boran cows. Furthermore they indicated year and season had significant effects. In agreement with this, Azage et al (1981) and Goshu (1983) found that crossbred cows required less NSC than local and pure bred cows. On the other hand the NSC was reported to be not significantly affected by breed and season (Gebeyehu 2005, Giday 2001, Mekonen and Goshu 1987, El-Amin et al 1981). In this work the NSC was significantly (p<0.05) affected by season of calving and breeding type. The influence of season of calving could arise from feed availability which could affect the nutritional status and the fertility of animals. The NSC depends largely on the breeding system used; it is higher under uncontrolled natural breeding and low where hand mating or AI is used (Mukasa-Mugerwa 1989). In this study NSC is fewer in natural mating than AI. The natural mating was done after observing the cow in heat.

Days open should not exceed 80-85 days if a calving interval of 12 months is to be achieved (Peters 1984). The duration of this period is mainly influenced by nutrition, season, milk yield, parity, suckling and uterine involution. In this study days open was significantly (p<0.05) influenced by season of calving. This is related to feed availability which in turn affected the fertility of cows.

Gestation length was not affected by breed, season of calving and breeding type; and the variation was insignificant with slightly longer gestation length in the crossbred cows than in the locals. In agreement with the results of this work but with very little variation, the average gestation length in cattle was indicated to be 280 days (Noakes 1979). The duration of gestation is genetically determined although it can be modified by maternal, fetal and environmental factors.

The interval from calving to first heat was not affected by breed, season of calving and breeding type with Horro-Jersy and Horro-Friesian having the shortest and the longest interval to first estrus and with slightly longer interval in cows that calved in the dry season. In experimental dairy herds Hawk and Bellows (1980) reported the number of days to first estrus to be about 34 days. The number of days to first estrus obtained in this study is much longer to attain optimum reproductive efficiency of the herd. This could be the result of missed heat, silent heats and inadequate nutrition. Days to first estrus is mainly affected by plane of nutrition and intensity of suckling stimulus.

In most of the traits considered Horro-Jersey cows generally appeared better than Horro and Horro-Friesian cows interms of calving to first service interval, days open and NSC. Similarly Abaye et al (1989) had indicated that Jersey crosses were superior to that of the Friesian crosses in age at first calving, calving interval and breeding efficiency.


Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the staff of Animal Production Research Division for cooperation in the management of experimental animals and their unreserved help during data collection. 


References

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Received 8 October 2010; Accepted 29 April 2011; Published 3 August 2011

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