Effects of Floor Characteristics on Locomotion Scores in Dairy Cows under Smallholder Zero-Grazing Units in Kikuyu District, Kenya
Mogoa, Mosoti Eddy
Onono, Joshua Orungo
Serem, Jared Kibiwott
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A cross-sectional study was carried out within smallholder zero-grazing dairy units in Kikuyu District, Kenya, to evaluate floor characteristics and slurry management and association of these factors with locomotion scores. A total of 100 smallholder zero-grazing units and 161 dairy cows in them were evaluated respectively. Data on floor factors, frequency of slurry removal and its relative cover on the floor were obtained through direct observation and questionnaires. Gaits of cows were assessed using established locomotion scoring system. Among the 100 smallholder zero-grazing dairy units evaluated, 92% had concrete floors and 8% had earthen floor. Out of those with concrete floors, 38% had well-finished intact concrete, 57.6% had poorly constructed or worn-out concrete with holes and loose stones, while 4.4% were excessively smooth. Out of those with earthen floor, 6 units were bare while 2 were covered with straw and grass. At the time of visit to each zero-grazing unit, the slurry cover on the floor was scanty in 36%, moderate in 62% and excessive in only 2% of them. Frequency of slurry removal from floors of the zero-grazing units was done once per day in 41% of them, twice per day in 45% of them, while in 14% of them it remained on the floors longer than a day. Floor type was found to be strongly associated with locomotion scores (O.R. =1.5, ²=40.47, p=0.0016). It is concluded that, floor type particularly when combined with slurry accumulation in smallholder zero-grazed dairy units, may influence gait and subsequently the locomotion scores of dairy cows. Therefore, there is need to train smallholder dairy farmers on the importance of maintaining good claw health through proper housing design with well finished floors that provide good claw ground-grip and ease of cleaning.
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