Effects of non-genetic factors on the inter-calving period of Nguni cows in South Africa
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of geographical regions of South Africa on the inter-calving period of Nguni cows. Data of Nguni cows (n = 26 681) from 427 Nguni breeders in the Savannah and the Grassland Biomes were statistically analyzed to establish the impact of non-genetic factors on the inter-calving period (ICP) of these cows. Cows with an ICP of less than 315 and above 730 days were removed from the dataset before analysis, to comply with Nguni breed standards. Dam age was included as a covariant. The ICP increased slightly up to 48 months of age, after which a decline was noticed up to the age of 108 months. Cows in the Savannah Biome had a shorter ICP than those studied in the Grassland Biome. Within the Savannah Biome, the ICP of cows was significantly shorter in the Eastern Kalahari Bushveld bioregion than in any other bioregion, while in the Grassland Biome the ICP was significantly shorter for cows calving in the Drakensberg and the Dry Highveld bioregions. In terms of seasons, the ICP of cows bred in spring and summer was significantly shorter than that of cows bred in autumn and winter. Categorization of cows in year groupings indicates significant year effects.
Keywords: Biome, bioregion, dam age, reproduction, season