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University of Fort Hare (2009)

Milk production and calf performance in Nguni and crossbred cattle raised on communal rangelands of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Mapekula, Monde

Titre : Milk production and calf performance in Nguni and crossbred cattle raised on communal rangelands of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Auteur : Mapekula, Monde

Université de soutenance : University of Fort Hare

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Animal Science 2009

Information on milk production could be useful in designing strategies that would help to improve milk production in communal farming systems. This study was conducted to determine milk production and calf performance of Nguni and crossbreds under smallholder cattle production conditions. Four trials were conducted in the study. The objective of the first trial was to determine farmer perceptions on milk production and calf rearing in smallholder areas. Data were obtained from 218 smallholder farmers, using a structured questionnaire. Smallholder farmer sector is constituted by small scale commercial farmers and communal farmers. Small-scale commercial farmers in South Africa obtained farms from the government through land claims or they bought the farms. Their farming background is a communal type. Communal farmers are farmers that are sharing the same grazing land and animals are managed according to the experience of the owner. The findings in this study indicated that there were numerous constraints to milk production in smallholder areas. These included lack of technical expertise and poor veterinary support services. The farmers also indicated that calf performance was low. The second trial was conducted to determine if there were differences in calf performance, gastrointestinal parasites and nutritionally-related blood metabolites between Nguni and crossbred calves. Body weights and faecal samples were collected monthly until weaning at six months. The levels of total protein, albumin, globulins, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), glucose, cholesterol and minerals were determined monthly. Nguni calves had higher birth weights than crossbreds (P<0.05). Average daily gain and weaning weights of Nguni calves were greater than crossbred calves (P<0.05. Nguni calves had lower total protein at early age after birth (P<0.05). However, at weaning Nguni calves had higher total protein than crossbreds (P<0.05). Nguni calves had higher levels of glucose and NEFA concentrations than crossbred calves (P<0.05). In the third trial, milk utilisation patterns in smallholder areas of the Eastern Cape were assessed. Cattle owners (n = 130) were randomly selected in three different regions to determine milk consumption patterns, milk sales, prices and factors influencing these activities. The information was gathered using milk recording sheets, which were administered in February (early lactation) and June (late lactation) in 2009. Milk consumption per household was similar among the three districts (P>0.05). Milk was utilised as both fresh and sour. Fresh milk was utilised with tea/coffee and porridge. Excess fresh milk was utilised to feed pets (mostly cats and puppies). The puppies were fed on mostly whey, and, at times, on fresh milk. Sour milk was utilised to prepare of umvubo (a mixture of sour milk and scrambled porridge (umphokoqo) or a mixture of sour milk and bread). In some cases, excess milk was given to neighbours as a form of social investment and fame. The quality of milk from Nguni and crossbred cows was compared in the fourth trial. Milk samples were evaluated for quality in early (February), mid (April) and late (June) lactation in 2009. The essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids and fatty acids were determined. Nguni milk had higher amino acids and fatty acids concentration than crossbreds (P<0.05). Nguni milk had higher arginine levels in the early and mid lactation periods compared to crossbred cows (P<0.05). Nguni milk had higher methionine and threonine levels than crossbred cows (P<0.05). Methionine levels in Nguni were 0.15, 0.19 and 0.18 in early, mid and late lactation while crossbred had 0.05, 0.05 and 0.06 (g/100ml), respectively. There were significant interactions between lactation stage and genotype for lysine levels with Nguni milk having higher (P<0.05) lysine levels in the mid and late lactation periods. Nguni cows had higher tyrosine, glycine and proline levels than crossbred cows (P<0.05). In the early lactation, Nguni cows had higher serine levels than crossbred cows (P<0.05). In mid lactation crossbred cows had higher serine levels than Nguni cows (P<0.05). There were significant differences between genotypes on fatty acid composition. Nguni milk had higher C12:0 levels than crossbreds (P<0.05). However, milk from crossbred cows had higher C14:0 levels than that for Nguni cows (P<0.05) and also had higher levels of C16:0 and C18:0 fatty acids compared to Nguni cows. Crossbred milk had higher levels of C18n1n9t in early lactation period than Nguni and decreased as the stage of lactation progressed (P<0.05). In the early lactation, the levels of C18n1nC in Nguni milk were higher (P<0.05) than in late lactation. In the mid and late lactation, crossbred cows milk had higher C18n1nC levels than in early lactation (P<0.05). Lactation stage and genotype affected saturated fatty, monounsaturated fatty acids, cis-fatty acids and omega 3 (n-3) to omega 6 (n-6). In general, Nguni milk had higher mineral composition than crossbred milk (P<0.05). In conclusion, Nguni calves performed better than crossbred calves under communal rangelands. There is a need for crossing Nguni cows with dairy breeds in commercial dairying by smalhoder farmers as a strategy for improving both milk quality and quantity

Mots clés : Nguni cattle Communal rangelands - Eastern Cape Dairy processing Milk yield - Eastern Cape Amino acids - Eastern Cape Fatty acids

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