Methods of analysing the effect of season of birth on weaning weight in a zebu x temperate beef herd in Kenya
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A study was made of weaning weights in a beef herd, using a rotational crossbreeding system including the Boran breed (zebu) and two temperate beef breeds (Devon and Limousin), and a seasonal calving period spanning the onset of the rains. Significant sources of variation in calf weaning weights were crossbred type, age at weaning, sex, dam's age, season of birth, year and a year × crossbred type interaction (all P < 0·001). The adjusted mean weaning weight was 203 kg. Weaners sired by a temperate bull were generally 1·08 times the weight of those sired by a zebu bull. Steers were 1·06 times the weight of heifers. Marked increases in weaning weights occurred as dams increased in age from 3 to 6 years and slight increases continued up to 9 years of age. Weaners born to 9-year-old cows were 1·09 times the weight of those from first calvers. Alternative methods for investigating the effect of season of birth were examined and the final choice was a covariate for time from birth to the onset of the rains. Calves born in the earliest part of the calving period were approximately 1·14 times the weight of those born just after the onset of the rains.