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Improving Performance of Replacement Heifers in Hot Arid Environment Under Intensive Management

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Author(s): M. A. Razzaque | S. A. Mohammed | T. Al-Mutawa | M. Bedair

Journal: American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
ISSN 1557-4555

Volume: 4;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 85;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Dairy calf | heifer | feedlot | intervention | performance

ABSTRACT
Problem statement: Imported Holstein Friesian dairy cattle are exposed to hot arid climate in feedlot management in Kuwait. Desert climate is extreme reaching high 45-50°C in summer and low -4°C in winter at day and night respectively. High calf mortality, poor reproduction and milk yields were main constraints to viable dairying. The objectives of this study were to assess the magnitude of calf mortality, its causes; implement strategic intervention measures for improving calf survival rates and evaluate dairy herd performance. Approach: Two scenarios were used: (1) studying dairy herd performance without applying intervention measures and (2) introducing improved management with interventions. Performance of the herds of situations 1 and 2 were compared. Three classes of dairy herds, pre-weaned calves, heifers and first lactation cows born in Kuwait were used. Results: Implementing intervention measures resulted in significant (p = 0.001) reduction of crude calf mortality rates from a mean of 43.6% to a low 4.67%. Growth rates of calves and heifers increased significantly, resulting in breeding of locally raised heifers at 15 mo age instead of usual practice of breeding at 18-22 mo. Feed cost was significantly reduced by 14-25% by early breeding of heifers. Herd culling rate was reduced from 62-33% and conception rates increased by 41%. The milk yield was increased by 1.25-1.50 fold through replacing the imported cows by locally born heifers. Adult cattle mortality rates reduced from high 9 to a low 1%. Case study showed that locally born and reared dairy herd formed a mean of 65.8% of total dairy cattle in cooperating farms. Conclusion: A systematic applied research studies in the commercial dairy farms had resulted in a visible improvement in the performance of all categories of locally born dairy herds and they were better adapted to the local hostile climate.
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