Potential impact of husbandry practices on the welfare and productivity of draught cattle in rural communities around Zaria, Nigeria
A survey of the draught cattle husbandry practices and the potential impact of such practices on the health and productivity as it relates to work hours of these cattle was carried out during the months of November – March (dry season) and during the months of June-September (wet season) in seven rural communities around Zaria. It was observed that these animals are kept under a typical traditional husbandry system, where no special housing or periodic health care is provided for these animals. Consequently, common health conditions seen were more during the dry season, (64.75%) than during the wet period (38.72%). The clinical parameters of the apparently healthy draught cattle as compare to those clinically sick showed significant changes in the age, weight, working hours and work output. The variation in the body weight showed that clinically sick cattle with diarrhea had significantly (P<0.05) lower weight than those with injuries, and mixed conditions. The body temperatures of those injured and with mixed conditions were significantly (P<0.05) higher than those with diarrhea and other conditions. It was concluded that clinically sick cattle showed loss of weight, worked less hours and consequently less output than the healthy cattle. Factors that affect the health management of draught animals such as the availability of quality food supply, the level of hygiene, the prevalence of diseases and available veterinary services were noticed to be present in these communities. The draught animal survival ability rather than productive ability was the dominating factor in most husbandry practice in these communities, with the animals surviving under sub-optional productive state in conjunction with stress of diseases on one hand, and poor nutrition on the other hand.
Keywords: Draught Cattle, Husbandry, Health, Workhours, Wet, Dry Months