Coat Colour: Its Relevance and Influence on Reproductive and Production Performance in Boran Cows
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Data on 680 heifers, 1894 calving and 1014 calves of Kenya Boran cattle, covering periods between 11 and 23 years, were used to assess the influence of coat colour and factors such as year and month of birth, sex, parity, most previous parous status and cow coat colour on age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), calving rate (CR), stillbirth rates (STBR), abortion rates (ABR) and weaning rates (WR), 270-day adjusted calf weight (Calf 270) and two cow productivity indices. This paper focuses on the relevance and effects of cow coat colour on reproductive and productive performance of the cows. Cow coat colour had no significant influence on CI,ABR,WR, Calf270 and the cow productivity indices, but significantly affected (p< 0.05) STBR and AFC. Mottled and darker coloured cows were 1.8 months younger at first calving; weaned 3 % more calves; had 2.4% higher calving rate; 2.3% lower stillbirth rates and on overall 30.6 kg/cow/year more productive, although insignificantly so largely due to large standard errors, than the more popular light coloured (white/grey) cows. Golden coloured cows weaned calves that were 4 kg heavier than the white/grey ones and were therefore more productive than the white, grey and brown cows, but only marginally so. It was concluded from the study that the effect of coat colour on the performance of Kenya Boran cows in insignificant and should, therefore not be emphasized in genetic improvement of the breed.