Genetic and nongenetic factors affecting on-farm performance of peri-urban dairy cattle in west Africa.

Affiliation

Group Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Kassel and University of Goettingen, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Population growth and urbanization lead to an increasing demand for milk in sub-Saharan Africa, but the production potential of the 65.9 million dairy cows in the region is far from being fully exploited to meet this demand. With the aim to support decision-making for breeding and management of dairy cattle in commercial farms, we performed a comparative study of daily milk offtake, chemical composition of milk, prevalence of metabolic disorders, and body weight development of local and crossbred cattle genotypes in peri-urban commercial farms in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. We used data that were collected during regular visits of 7 farms in peri-urban areas of the city over a 16-mo period. Animals belonged to 3 breed groups (123 local zebu, 49 Sahelian crossbred, and 42 European crossbred cows). We applied a mixed model approach to evaluate the genetic and seasonal effects on daily milk offtake, milk composition, and body weight. Nonlinear growth models were fitted to model the body weight development according to genotype, season, and reproductive status of cows. The milk fat-to-milk protein ratio was used to determine the prevalence of ketosis and acidosis. Daily milk offtake from crossbred cows was 3.1- to 4.3-fold higher than from local zebu cows; furthermore, crossbred cows had a higher body weight and maturity rate than local zebu cows. In contrast, no genotype differences were found in milk fat and milk protein percentage and prevalence of ketosis and acidosis. Additionally, seasonal effects suggested that higher production performances could be realized through improved management of dairy cows, particularly in the late dry and rainy season. Improved feeding management could also reduce the risk of metabolic disorders. In summary, production performances of crossbred dairy cows in peri-urban production systems in Burkina Faso are higher as compared with local zebu cows. However, environmental effects suggest that further studies are needed to systematically assess genotype by environment interactions to guide the development of sustainable breeding and management programs for dairy cattle in Burkina Faso.

Keywords

crossbreeding,dairy cow,production performance,sub-Saharan Africa,