Constraints to production, disease perceptions and ticks and helminths control practices on dairy cattle farms in Nyandarua District, Kenya.
Njoroge, G K
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A cross-sectional survey was undertaken on 240 dairy cattle farms in Nyandarua District in central Kenya to determine farm characteristics, farmer’s perception of production constraints and diseases and the prevalence and control practices for ticks and helminths. Farmers were interviewed using questionnaires and 708 cattle examined. The mean farm size was 3.2 hectares and average number of cattle per farm 20, with 66% of the farms having 3-16 animals. This indicated that dairy-cattle farming is a smallholder concern in the district. The cattle were crossbreeds mainly of Hostein-Friesian and Ayrshire kept as a source of milk for domestic consumption and sale. High proportions of the farmers considered diseases (75%), high cost of drugs (70%), high cost of supplementary feeds (70%) and inadequate pastures (60%) as the main production constraints. East Coast Fever (ECF) was ranked as the most important disease. The majority (62%) of farmers used acaricides, which were applied at intervals of 2 to 4 weeks on 75% of the farms mostly through hand spraying. Forty percent of cattle were infested with ticks, indicating that tick borne diseases (TBDs) are a risk to cattle production. Rhipicephalus appendiculatus was the most abundant (81%) followed by Boophilus decoloratus (15%) and Amblyomma variagatum (4%). Gastrointestinal tract (GIT) nematodes infections were sub-clinical but common, with Haemonchus being the predominant parasite, and a number of cattle were shedding Fasciola eggs. These data indicate that GIT nematodes and liver flukes infections are a risk to cattle production in the district. A large proportion (75%) of the farmers dewormed their cattle, but 60% used the same type of drug for more than three years and the dosage was estimated using eye measure on all the farms. These practices are considered as risk factors for the development of anthelmintic resistance. There is a need to improve access to quality extension and veterinary services and seek solutions to constraints facing the farmers in the district in order to improve dairy cattle productivity.