Post-Natal Calf Management Practices of Selected Small-Scale Dairy Farms in Four Regions of Ethiopia

Markos Tadele


Calf management during the postnatal period is of paramount importance for sustainable livestock production. A well-informed and evidence-based approach is crucial for the improvement of postnatal calf management practices. A cross-sectional investigation was conducted to assess the post-natal calf management, calf health problems, and associated risk factors among small-scale dairy farmers from four regions in Ethiopia (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray) between September 2017 and November 2021. The study included 199 urban, 290 peri-urban, and 180 rural farmers, with 202 (30.3%) having intensive farms, 255 (38.1%) semi-intensive, and 212 (31.6%) extensive farms. Data on birth history, colostrum feeding management, vaccination practices, and previous disease history of selected calves were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression models were employed to analyze the data with SPSS and SAS statistical software. The prevalence of dystocia was found to be notably higher in this survey compared to previous reports conducted different parts of the country. This observation might be attributed to crossbreeding between local cows. Among all birth difficulties, 90 cases (76.9%) were recorded when cows attempted to deliver crossbreed calves, suggesting a significant association between crossbreed calves and delivery complications, with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.59 and a confidence interval (CI) of 1.626-4.151. Majority of the farmers (94.9%) practiced colostrum feeding, and 64% vaccinated their calves for at least one type of vaccine. The overall calf morbidity was 40.9%, with regional prevalence as follows: Amhara region (78.6%), Oromia region (41.2%), SNNPR (31.4%), and Tigray region (23.9%). The most frequently observed disease syndrome was diarrhea (30.7%), followed by external parasites (21.8%), wound and other skin problems (21.8%), septicemic unknown infections (21.8%), coccidiosis (6.8%), poisoning and feed intoxication (4.7%), mixed infection (4.1%), and anemia (2.7%). Among the risk factors analyzed, only the sex of the farm owner, herd size, amount of colostrum fed and breed of calves showed a significant (P<0.05) effect on calf health problems. Based on the findings, appropriate calf housing, strict hygiene and sanitation, and proper feeding management were recommended.

Keywords: Post-natal calf management, Calf morbidity, colostrum feeding

DOI: 10.7176/JBAH/13-11-02

Publication date:July 31st 2023

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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