Health and productivity of calves in smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu District Kenya
Gitau, George Karuoya
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This thesis describes an investigation into the health and prOductivity of calves on smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu District, Kenya. The objectives were to determine the distributions of important health and production measures, to describe calf management practices and to relate these practices to variations in calf health and production. A two stage random sampling protocol was used. six of the 14 dairy societies were first randomly selected. Then from each selected society, fifteen farmers were randomly chosen from the registered and active smallholder dairy farmers in the society. The initial participation rate was 98.9% and 90% of the farms allowed monthly visits over the entire 12 months study period. (July 1991 to June 1992). During each visit, farm management, health and production data were collected and recorded. Overall, 201 calves (104 males and 97 females) were observed on at least one visit. The crude calf morbidity and mortality were 26.7% and 21.6% respectively for the first year of life. Clustering of calf morbidity and mortality did not occur by farm. Diarrhoea contributed to the highest cause-specific morbidity and mortality rates among the calves. The risk factors significantly associated with calf morbidity were the type of floor and the percent of lYmphocytes. Factors associated with calf mortality were the presence of coccidia and occurrence of clinical illness (p<O.05). Calf growth was expressed as daily weight gain. The overall mean daily weight gain was O.207kg. Lower daily weight gains were associated with both farm and calf level factors. These were: years of dairy farming, type of grazing system, the amount of colostrum and milk given to calves, sex of calf and occurrence of illness (p<O.05).