Morphological assessment of Niger Kuri cattle using multivariate methods
A total of 406 adult cows and 34 bulls belonging to the Niger Kuri cattle population were assessed for 16 body measurements and 11 qualitative traits to contribute to the characterization of this unique cattle breed. Body measurements included facial, horn, ear and rump lengths; facial, cranial, shoulder, pelvic and ischium widths; height at withers and at hips; muzzle circumference; heart girth; body and tail lengths; and thorax depth. Qualitative traits included cephalic profile, ear shape, muzzle pigmentation, eyelid pigmentation, hoof pigmentation, horn colour, dewlap size, backline profile, horn shape, spotting pattern, and coat colour pattern. Data were analysed jointly with 377 individuals from four other West African taurine cattle breeds (N’Dama, Lagunaire, Lobi and Somba) using multivariate statistical methods, including canonical and correspondence analyses. Among the breeds analysed, Kuri cattle had the highest mean values for all body measurements: height at withers and body length had mean values of 124.0 ± 0.4 and 146.8 ± 1.0 cm in Kuri cows, respectively, and 126.0 ± 2.2 and 155.7 ± 3.6 cm, respectively, in Kuri bulls. Canonical analysis allowed the construction of contour plots to illustrate the high differentiation between Kuri cattle and the other breeds, regardless of the sex of the individuals. Further, the Mahalanobis distance matrices showed that pairs involving Kuri cattle had the higher differentiation of these populations. Correspondence analysis carried out on these 11 qualitative traits allowed the researchers to ascertain a clear differentiation between the Kuri and the other taurine cattle breeds. The N’Dama, Lagunaire, Lobi, and Somba breeds did not show clear differentiation at qualitative-type trait level with 75% confidence regions computed for these four breeds being highly intermingled. In the current data, Kuri cattle had the highest frequency in qualitative features, such as concave cephalic profile, dropped ears, non-pigmented muzzle and grey-coloured horns, which are absent in West African taurine and zebu cattle breeds, according to the literature. The current evidence would suggest that unique Kuri cattle type features may result from breeding decisions rather than from zebu admixture. This work confirms that at type trait level Kuri cattle is a unique population within the West African taurine cattle group. The implementation of genetic analyses aiming at ascertaining the degree of uniqueness of the breed is advised.
Keywords: Body measurements, Bos taurus, multivariate analyses, qualitative traits, West African cattle