Growth and reproductive traits of Friesian X Sanga crossbred cattle in the Accra plains of Ghana
AbstractThe typical cattle production system in Ghana is predominantly pasture-based. Cattle are grazed all year round on natural pastures with minimal feed supplementation. The animals kept in this production system often experience inadequate nutrition and fluctuating nutrient supply affecting their productivity. There is presently limited information on the growth and reproductive performance of the Friesian x Sanga crossbred cattle (Plate 1) and factors influencing these performance traits. The growth and reproductive performance records of 150 Friesian x Sanga crossbred cattle, kept at the Animal Research Institute station in the Accra Plains of Ghana from April 1993 to October 2009 were evaluated to determine the effect of parity of cow, season of calving and sex of calf on birth weight, weaning weight, growth rate, age at first calving and calving interval. The birth weight and weaning weights of the calves averaged 21.8 ± 0.5 kg and 94.2 ± 3.8 kg, respectively, and were not (P > 0.05) affected by sex of calf, parity of cow or season of calving. Parity of cow affected (P < 0.05) weight of calf at 12 months. Calf weight at 12 and 18 months averaged 128.0 ± 3.4 kg and 159.9 ± 4.5 kg, respectively. Pre-weaning and post-weaning average daily gains were 0.33 ± 0.02 kg/day and 0.23 ± 0.03 kg/day, respectively, and were not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by sex of calf, parity of cow or season of calving. The mean age at first calving was 41.2 ± 1.2 months. Calving interval was prolonged averaging 441.6 ± 10.3 days and was significantly (P < 0.05) affected by parity of cow. Calving interval decreased with increasing parity of cow. The age at first calving and calving interval were not (P > 0.05) affected by either sex of calf or season of calving. The growth and reproductive performance of the Friesian x Sanga crossbred cattle was less than optimum. Improving their nutrition could impact, positively, on their productivity through fast growth, increased milk yield and early resumption of ovarian cycles after calving. Thus, results from this study should guide the development of appropriate strategies for increased meat and milk production in Friesian x Sanga crossbred cattle.
Keywords: Cattle, grazing, growth, pasture, reproduction
African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Volume 13 No 2, April 2013
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