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Title: Assessing attitudes towards management practices and calf performance on smallholder and large commercial dairy herds in Nakuru County, Kenya
Authors: Francis, Albert Ngateireho
Keywords: Calf performance on smallholder
Issue Date: Feb-2020
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: Performance of dairy calves, being the replacement stock, is important for sustaining dairy herds. Calf performance is known to be poorer in smallholder dairy herds than in large commercial dairy herds. In Kenya, smallholder herds predominate, implying that poor calf performance is a sustainability issue for the national dairy herd. Knowledge gap exists about the influence of producer attitudes and management practices on the observed differences in calf performance. This study answered the research question of whether producer attitudes and management practices in calf housing, feeding, health and calf performance significantly differ between smallholder and large commercial dairy herds. Data was obtained in Nakuru County using structured questionnaire and collecting blood and fecal samples from 157 calves in 20 dairy herds. Laboratory analysis of the samples for determining total viable counts (TVC), coliforms, packed cell volume (PCV), haemoglobin concentration and presence of Escherichia coli was analyzed. Statistical analysis of the data at producer level applied non-parametric chi square test and Mann-Whitney U test because the sample was small and measurements were categorical and ordinal scale. Analysis at animal level applied parametric two independent sample t tests and binary logistic regression in SPSS version 23. Compared to large commercial producers, smallholders expressed more (p<0.05) negative attitudes, they were poorer (p<0.05) in implementing the recommended management practices. Consequently, calf performance was poorer in smallholder herds, with lower (p<0.05) average daily weight gain (307.3 vs 435.4g/day/calf), packed cell volume (36.9 vs 42.0%), blood haemoglobin concentrations (5.9 vs 8 g/dL) and higher prevalence (p<0.005) of fecal E. coli (70.1 vs 52.2%). To attain improved calf performance and sustainable dairy herds, Smallholders’ farmer needs to change their attitude towards positive ways, change practices of implementing recommended calf housing, feeding and health management practices. Extension services should be provided to advice, educates, guide and enforce towards implementing daily farm management practices. Feeding and health management should be practiced in connection of ensured calves’ biosecurity measures. Furthermore, the government can provide the soft loans particularly to the smallholder’s farmers to boost their dairy sector investments
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Agriculture

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