The present study was conducted to estimate the factors affecting the growth and mortality pattern in Tharparkar calves at organised dairy farm. The 8 year 6 month data set was analysed for the effect of season of birth, sex and period of birth on body weight at 0, 90, 180 and 360 days as well as mortality pattern of calves in different seasons. The seasons of birth had significant effect (P<0.05) on body weight at 180 and 360 days. The body weight was significantly higher (P<0.05) during winter and rainy season as compared to autumn at six month of age. The effect of sex was also significant (P<0.05) on body weight, where male calves were significantly (P<0.05) heavier as compared to females at 180 and 360 days. The birth weight was significantly (P<0.01) affected across the period of study. The calves with lesser birth weight led to higher mortality in rainy season (44.44%) as compared summer (19.23 %). The study revealed that winter and summer born calves has better growth and survivability under organised farming conditions.
The livestock play a pivotal role in the economy of agrarian farmer in India. Indian dairy industry is facing problem of replacement herd where farmers show unwillingness to raise young calves probably due to cost involved and lack of prediction for being used as parent. Among zebu, growth pattern is major concern for lack of predictability. Under such circumstances, factors affecting growth and mortality pattern of zebu calves are poorly available. Since growth from birth to maturity is of great economic significance, as at equal production level smaller and lighter cows become more profitable than larger and heavier cows. This may be due to reduced feed and housing costs involved (Gandhi and Amit, 2014). The birth weight and growth rate of animal are an expression of its genotype and environmental combination (Falconer and Mackay, 1996). Demeke et al. (2004) found that non-genetic factors (sex, season and year of birth etc.) affect growth at different age and directly responsible for the expression of actual genetic worth. Many other studies had shown that season of birth, year and fertility of the dam, age, parity and breed etc. also responsible for growth (Mohamed, 2004) and daily weight gain (Abera et al., 2012) in calves. Indigenous cattle are well known for their disease resistance, adaptation to harsh climate and feed shortage etc. Therefore, there is need to study the factors affecting growth and mortality pattern of zebu cattle, so that good performer could be selected at earlier age as replacement herd. These herds will be future of the sustainable dairy industry in India. Under the light of above facts and hypothesis, the objective of present study is to analyse the factors affecting growth and mortality pattern of Tharparkar calves at organised dairy farm.
Materials and Methods
The said study was undertaken on 194 Tharparkar calves born between 2007 to 2015 at Cattle and Buffalo Farm, Livestock Production and Management Section, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly (UP).
Data Collection and Classification
The data of 8.5 years from growth register and history sheet maintained at farm was collected and grouped as per animal number, date of birth, birth weight, body weight at 90, 180 and 360 days of age. The data were further classified as sex, age of death, season (summer, winter, rainy and autumn) of birth and death. The seasons classified on month wise basis as winter (December to March), summer (April to June), rainy (July to September), and autumn (October to November). The mortality data for the period of study was arranged as per age of the death i.e. death at 0, 90, 180 and 360 days of age.
Animal Housing and Feeding
The experimental animals were maintained in loose housing system. This system of housing provided animals to exhibit their natural behaviour by facilitating free movement and sufficient exercise to the animals. The shed was cleaned every day in morning hours. Disinfectant like phenyl was applied at regular intervals on the floor of the shed to keep the calves free from infection. The nutrient requirements of the calves were mostly met as per their requirement. The green fodder feeding timing was at 8.30-9.00 am, 10.00-11.00 am and 2.00-2.30 pm. The concentrate feed was fed as per the NRC recommendations (2001).
The generated data were subjected to one way ANOVA using SPSS 20 (Snedecorand Cochran, 1989). The significant means among various category were compared by Duncan multiple range test (Duncan, 1955). Calf mortality was analysed using descriptive (frequency) statistics.
Results and Discussion
We evaluated the effect of season of birth, sex and period of birth has been presented in Table 1 and the mortality pattern of calves in different seasons has been presented in Table 2.
Table 1: Effect of season, sex and period on body weight (kg) in Tharparkar calves (Means ± SE)
|Category||N||Body Wt. (Kg)|
|0 day||90 days||180 days||360 days|
|Effect of Season*|
|Winter||79||20.63 ± 0.36||57.65 ± 1.80||106.76 ± 3.03a||183.54 ± 4.33a|
|Summer||52||19.98 ± 0.46||54.94 ± 1.64||104.13 ± 2.93ab||175.48 ± 4.12a|
|Rainy||18||20.28 ± 0.71||52.50 ± 2.72||107.56 ± 6.79a||167.50 ± 10.38ab|
|Autumn||45||19.73 ± 0.58||51.47 ± 1.96||94.18 ± 3.25b||152.38 ± 7.02b|
|Overall||194||20.22 ± 0.24||55.01 ± 1.01||103.19 ± 1.78||172.66 ± 2.92|
|Effect of Sex*|
|Female||142||20.11 ± 0.29||54.55 ± 1.15||99.55 ± 1.89b||168.20 ± 3.21b|
|Male||52||20.52 ± 0.43||56.08 ± 2.06||112.77 ± 3.80a||184.85 ± 6.23a|
|Overall||194||20.22 ± 0.24||54.96 ± 1.01||103.09 ± 1.76||172.66 ± 2.92|
|Effect of Period**|
|PD-1(2007-2009)||72||19.63 ± 0.36b||53.18 ± 1.77||103.01 ± 3.40||173.08 ± 5.15|
|PD-2(2010-2012)||68||20.10 ± 0.37ab||54.85 ± 1.56||105.76 ± 2.87||173.53 ± 5.06|
|PD-3(2013-2015)||54||21.19 ± 0.54a||57.46 ± 1.92||100.50 ± 2.69||171.02 ± 4.86|
|Overall||194||20.23 ± 0.24||54.96 ±1.01||103.28 ± 1.77||172.66 ± 2.92|
Means with different superscripts within column differ significantly (*P< 0.05), (**P<0.01)
Effect of Season
The season of birth had significant effect (P<0.05) on the body weight at 180 and 360 days, whereas, birth weight and body weight at 90 days were almost similar in different seasons of the year. At 180 days, the body weight was significantly higher (P<0.05) during winter and rainy season in comparison to autumn. In summer, body weight was in between two extreme body weight seasons (Table 1). The lesser growth during autumn may be due to conception of dam in extreme weather conditions during which animals generally faced fodder scarcity. Reduced growth performance may also due to stressful metabolism under extreme weather conditions. The similar findings were reported by Pandya, (2005), Sorathiya et al. (2009) and Bayou et al. (2015). These results were also in agreement with the findings of Giday (2001) and Melaku et al. (2011) who reported heavier birth weights for Fogera calves born in dry season. The calves born during the rainy season had higher birth weight (Aynalem, 2006; Mekonnen et al., 2012; Ndofor-Foleng et al., 2011). Non significant effects on birth weight were also found in some of the studies (Oddoye et al., 1999; Manzi et al., 2012).
Table 2: Effect of season on mortality pattern in Tharparkar calves (Means ± SE)
|Category||N||Birth Wt. of Dead Calves||Mortality
|Age of Death ( days)|
|Winter||18||17.05 ± 1.10||22.78||30.00 ± 21.82|
|Summer||10||19.25 ± 1.25||19.23||18.00 ± 18.00|
|Rainy||8||16.62 ± 1.36||44.44||11.25 ± 11.25|
|Autumn||14||18.78 ± 0.68||31.11||45.00 ± 27.90|
|Overall||50||17.91 ± 0.55||25.77||28.80 ± 11.62|
Effect of Sex
The effect of sex was found to be significant (P<0.05) on body weight (kg) at 180 and 360 days of birth, however, the birth weight and body weight at 90 days was found similar and non-significant in both male and female calves. The male calves were of significantly higher body weight as compared to female calves, both at 180 and 360 days. The male calves were almost 13 kg and 16 kg heavier at 180 and 360 days of birth, respectively as compared to female calves (Table 1). The higher body weight of males may be due to secretion of androgens which have a growth promoting effect whereas, estrogens have been found as growth depressant. Sex of the calf had significant (P<0.05) effect on various growth traits studied (Table 1). The effect of sex on birth weight of calves has also been reported by many workers (Giday, 2001; Amsalu, 2003; Getinet et al., 2009; Mekonnen et al., 2012; Ndofor-Foleng et al., 2011). Similarly Pandya, (2005); Sorathiya et al. (2009); Manzi et al. (2012); Bayou et al. (2015) had reported heavier male calves over female. As per the general trend of monotoccus animals, males usually weighed heavier than counter sex and in our study also we have observed similar trends.
Effect of Period of Birth
The birth weight was significantly (P<0.01) affected during different period of study and it was significantly higher during 2013-15 than 2007-09, whereas, it was in between the two during 2010-12. However, effect of period among other age groups was non-significant. Despite of variable birth weight during different study period, growth of calves in later period were maintained and reflected as almost similar weight at 360 days. This may be due to better management practices adopted during the growth period of calves and indicated that proper care can improve growth performances even in low weighed Tharparkar calves.
The overall mortality was 25.77% during 2007-2015. Higher mortality of calves may be due to smaller sample size. The range of mortality rate during various seasons was 16.13 to 42.86% (Table 2). However we did not found any significant effect of season on the birth weight of dead calves. The maximum and minimum mortality found was in rainy (44.44%) and summer (19.23) seasons as compared to other seasons (Table 2). The higher mortality seen in calves born with less birth weight during rainy season, whereas, less mortality seen in calves born with higher birth weight in summer season. Probably calves born with less body weight were more prone to infection, whereas, rainy season might also favour the growth of harmful microorganisms in the microenvironment of Tharparkar calves.
From the above study it was concluded that winter and summer born calves has better growth and survivability chances under organised farming conditions. The male calves were of significantly higher body weight as compared to female calves. The birth weight was significantly affected during different period of study. The calves born with less body weight had more chances of deaths across the study.