Reproductive performance of artificially inseminated dairy cows under smallholder production system in selected areas of Rwanda and Tanzania
This on-farm longitudinal study was carried out in artificially inseminated smallholder dairy cattle herds in Rwamagana and Kayonza districts, Eastern Province, Rwanda and in urban and peri-urban area of Tanga city, Tanzania. The objectives of the study were to generate a reliable field data set and analyze it to determine reproductive parameters/indices. A total of 280 and 400 households keeping 158 and 709 cows and heifers in Rwanda and Tanzania respectively were studied. Reproductive events: dates of heat, AI or NS, service number, sire ID, name of inseminator, PD results, calving date, abortions or other reproductive problems were recorded by the farmer or with assistance from the inseminator. Inseminations were carried out all year round but there was tendency for the majority to be carried out between June and October with a peak in August and September. The average CI (±SD), CCI (± SD) total number of inseminations performed, first service pregnancy rate, services per pregnancy (all cows) and services per pregnancy (pregnant cows only) was 429±30/490±119 days, 215±132/195.7±99.8 days, 353/1035, 31.6/44.7 %, 2.7/1.9 and 1.9/1.1 in Rwanda and Tanzania, respectively. In conclusion, sub-optimal reproductive performance and low AI success in artificially inseminated smallholder dairy cattle herds was characterized by long CI, low first service pregnancy rate and an average of two or more services per pregnancy. We recommend further research to determine specific causes of poor performance in order for appropriate corrective measures aimed at improving productivity in the smallholder dairy sub-sector to be carried out.
Keywords: Reproductive performance, AI service, smallholder dairy production