On-farm comparison of milk production and body condition of purebred Ankole and Crossbred Friesian–Ankole cattle in south western Uganda
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Increasing land pressure due to the rapidly growing population, growing demand for livestock products in urban centres and new land policies in Uganda are changing the life styles of the hitherto extensive grazers of the long horned Ankole cattle in south western Uganda. A production system where two separate herds are kept on one farm, a pure bred Ankole herd and a herd of Friesian - Ankole crosses is emerging. The Friesian-Ankole crosses are kept as a source of milk, most of which is sold to generate income. The Ankole are kept for cultural reasons, a buffer against shock in case of prolonged drought and disease outbreak and for income through sale of live animals. This study investigates the life cycle efficiency of the different genotypes on farm. Eighteen farmers have been selected and in each farm up to 30 animals have been selected per herd covering the complete age /sex range of the herd. During the selection the crossbred status was evaluated based on information from the farmer and phenotype. All selected animals were tagged. The animals are currently followed up on monthly intervals and this will last for a period of two years. During the visits body condition, tick count, health status, milk production of cows, growth parameters in young animals (weight approximated by the measurement of chest circumference) are recorded. Other information collected includes disease and parasite control measures (methods and costs involved), labour costs, calving dates, any supplementation, rainfall and temperature patterns. This paper discusses preliminary results on performance traits of the different genotypes for the first year of the study.