Cow efficiency, relative-birth weight and subsequent pre- weaning growth performance of Nguni cattle.

Mpofu, Takalani Judas
Nephawe, Khathutshelo Agree
Ginindza, Muzi Mandla
Siwendu, Ndyebo Anathi
Mtileni, BohanI
The objective of this study was to evaluate factors influencing Cow Efficiency (CE), Relative-Birth Weight (R-BW), and subsequent pre-weaning growth performance of Nguni cattle in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Factors that were considered were dammed weight at calving, agro-ecological zone, the season of birth, sex of calves, parity, and dam age. Data from Nguni cows and their calves (n = 826) consisting of calf Birth Weight (BW), Weaning Weight (WW), and Dam Weight at calving were used in this study. Dams were classified according to their weights at calving into high (>385 kg), medium (326-385 kg), and low (<326 kg) categories. The General Linear Model (GLM) procedure of SAS (2015) was computed to analyze data; the means were separated using Fisher's Least Significant Difference (LSD) test. Dam weight at calving influenced CE, R-BW, WW, and P-ADG, but did not influence BW. Lighter and average dams had higher CE (36.74; 35.04 Vs 30.01%), RBW (8.04; 7.12 Vs 6.28%), WW (116.80; 116.62 Vs 115.13 kg), P-ADG (0.447; 0.446 Vs 0.438 kg/day) and P-WG (91.72; 91.40 Vs 89.77 kg) compared to heavier dams. Animals in the humid zone had higher CE (35.32%), WW (117.53 kg), P-ADG (0.452 kg/day), and P-WG (92.86 kg). Animals in arid yielded lower CE, WW, P-ADG, and P-WG compared to those in humid zone. Season of birth influenced R-BW and pre-weaning performance traits, however, it did not influence CE. Higher WW (116.78 kg), P-ADG (0.448 kg/day), P-WG (91.96 kg) were recorded for summer calves. The sex of calves, parity, and damage influenced all traits except R-BW and BW. Dams with male calves had higher CE (34.79%), WW (126.20 kg), P-ADG (0.491 kg/day), and P-WG (100.71 kg) compared to their female counterparts. Dams on the fifth (5th) parity had higher CE (37.00%), R-BW (7.18%), WW (127.01 kg), P-ADG (0.495 kg/day) and PWG (101.53 kg). Seven (7) years old dams had higher CE (42.32%), WW (143.33 kg), P-ADG (0.590 kg/day), and P-WG (121.17 kg). The findings indicate that breeding with lighter cows would result in calves with comparable or even better growth traits than heavier cows.
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Agro-ecological zone, Dam weight, Pre-weaning average daily gain, Weaning weight
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