Factors influencing calf growth and daily weight gain on smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu District, Kenya
Toewsc, D. Waltner
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Dairy calf growth was studied on 90 randomly selected smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu District, Kenya between July 1991 and June 1992. The data were stratified by dairy society and farm in a two-stage random sampling protocol. Of the 90 farms, 78 had at least one calf during the study period. Overall, 201 calves (104 males and 97 females) were observed on at least one visit. Calf growth was estimated by daily weight gain. The overall median daily weight gain was 0.21 kg (ranging from View the MathML source). Approximately 14% of the monthly variability of daily weight gain was attributed to the farm. The remainder was associated with the variability between daily weight gains for the same calf from month to month. A multivariate regression method, Generalised Estimating Equations (GEE), was used to determine the association between daily weight gain and potential explanatory factors, since consecutive daily weight gains were correlated. Both farm- and calf-level factors were associated with calf daily weight gain. Lower daily weight gains were associated with increased number of years the owner was in dairy farming, lower amounts of milk fed to calves, male calves and the occurrence of clinical illness.