Performance of crossbred dairy goats in smallholder farms in central Kenya
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Performance of Saanen/Toggenburg crosses and their Alpine sired crossbreds in Nyeri district in Central Kenya was studied. Data was analysed for 112 does which kidded between 1994 and 1996 and 59 kids (31 singles and 14 twins) born between January and June, 1996. The animals were reared under zero-grazing system. Milk yield and liveweight of kids were recorded at weekly intervals, while births and deaths were recorded as they occurred. Data on reproductive performance such as number of services per conception and kidding interval were extracted from the doe card. The factors included in completely fixed statistical analyses models were agricultural area, month of kidding, sex of kid, type of birth, breed of doe and parity in all the four traits and breed by agricultural area interaction as an additional effect in lactational milk yield. The productive traits analysed were lactational milk yield (kg), birth weight (kg), pre-weaning average daily gain (ADG) (gms) and weaning weight (kg). Their respective means and coefficients of variation were 108.24±65.51 : 60.52%; 2.87±0.76 : 26.51%; 91.79±27.62 : 30.09%; and 13.34±3.36 : 25.18%. Agricultural area, month of kidding, breed of doe, breed by agricultural area interaction and lactation length significantly (P<0.05) affected milk yield, while type of birth significantly (P<0.05) affected birth weight. None of the above factors significantly affected ADG and weaning weight. However, the agricultural areas located in the main coffee zone performed better in all the four traits compared to the area located in the marginal coffee zone. The Fl Alpine sired crossbreds had significantly (P<O.05) higher lactational milk yield (141.60±27.14 kgs) compared to the Saanen/Toggenburg crosses (65.39±11.92 kgs). However, the Saanen/Toggenburg crosses performed better compared to the Alpine sired crossbreds in birth weight (3.28±0.29 Vs 2. 83±0. 51 kgs), pre-weaning ADG (85. 31±10. 58 Vs 82.7 3±30. 64 gms) and weaning weight (12.55±3.73 Vs 12.44±1.29 kgs). However, these differences were not statistically significant (P>O.05). Female kids performed better, though not significantly (P>O.05), in pre-weaning growth compared to their male counterparts. Single born kids and kids born of older does performed better than twins and kids born of younger does. However, the differences were not statistically significant (P>0.05). Twinning rate, pre-weaning kid mortality and number of services per conception for all the does were estimated at 31.11%, 10.17% and 1.36±0.68 respectively. Kidding interval for the Saanen/Toggenburg crosses was estimated at 380.8±114.7 days. It was not possible to estimate this trait for the Fl Alpine sired crossbreds because they were in their first kidding. It was concluded that crossing of the Saanen/Toggenburg crosses with the Alpine bucks improved the lactational performance. Further research is necessary to determine performance of dairy goat crosses in the study area using a larger data set over a longer period.