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Seasonal Variation in Body Condition Score and Morphometry with Age of Crossbred Cattle at an Organized Farm in Kashmir Valley

Ashaq Manzoor R. A. Patoo Asra Khursheed Tahir Nazir Parvaiz Ahmad Dar Insha Afzal
Vol 7(9), 126-133
DOI- http://dx.doi.org/10.5455/ijlr.20170620075903

Present study was conducted to evaluate season wise variation in body condition score (BCS) in different physiological stages and association of morphometry with age of crossbred cattle (Jersey x local cattle) maintained at Mountain Livestock Research Institute, Mansbal, SKUAST-Kashmir. Fifty four crossbred cattle of same parity were examined for BCS on 6 point scale through seven different physiological stages viz. calving (CL), early lactation (EL), mid lactation (ML), late lactation (LL), dry period (DP) and heifers. Body measurements visa,body length, height at withers, chest girth and pelvic girth were taken in animals of age group 1.5-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-8 years. Results revealed that BCS of crossbred cattle was comparatively low in winter than autumn season with more depression in months of November and December. Body length and height at withers increased significantly (P<0.05) with age upto 3 years. Chest girth and pelvic girth increased significantly (P<0.05) upto 4 and 5 years of age, respectively, while body weight increased significantly (P<0.05) with age.


Keywords : Body Condition Score Body Morphometry Physiological Stages Season

Introduction

Productivity in a dairy farm is challenged by a number of problems related to production, breeding, metabolic diseases, nutrition and reproduction etc. Timely identification and monitoring of these problems through specific managemental tools will certainly help in their control. Body Condition Score (BCS) is one such managemental tool which can be suitably utilized to overcome these problems and improve profitability in a dairy farm. BCS is accepted, non-invasive, quick, inexpensive and subjective measure to assess body reserves through visual or tactile inspection regardless of body measurement and body weight (Mishra et al., 2016; Mushtaq et al., 2012). It reflects the plane of nutrition on which an animal has been exposed over a reasonable period of time (Miko et al., 2014). BCS is subject to variation in physiological status (Bastin and Gengler, 2013; Yamazaki et al., 2011) and cows become increasingly fat as they progress through pregnancy (Koenenet al., 2001).With the advance of age morphometric traits increase in dimensions due to skeletal development (Ashaq Manzoor et al., 2017; Aamir et al., 2010). There exist a linear relationship between body weight and age and inverse relationship between BCS and body weight related to their age (Anitha et al., 2005). Body weight, heart girth and BCS are highly correlated (Gallo et al., 2001; Yan et al., 2009). Keeping in view the importance of BCS as dairy animal management tool, present study was undertaken to investigate the season wise variation in BCS in different physiological stages and association of body morphometry with age of crossbred cattle at an organized farm in temperate region of Kashmir valley.

Materials and Methods

Ethical Approval

All the experiments used in the study were carried out as per the approval from institutional animal ethics committee.

Location of Experiment

Present study was conducted at Mountain Livestock Research Institute SKUAST-K, Mansbal. Average environmental temperature during autumn and winter ranges around 20 ̊C and -7 ̊C, respectively. Average annual precipitation received was about 650.5 mm in form of snow and rain during winter and summer, respectively.

Experimental Animals and Design

Fifty four healthy crossbred cattle (Jersey x local cattle) were monitored fortnightly on 6 point scale in two season autumn (Sept. to Nov.) and winter (Dec. to Feb.) each of three months interval, through different physiological stages viz. calving (CL), early lactation (EL), mid lactation (ML), late lactation (LL), dry period (DP), and heifer. Physiological stages of EL, ML, LL and DP were of the duration of 3, 4, 3 and 2 months, respectively while as CL stage comprised of 3-5 days before expected date of calving. Nutritional requirements of animals were met through a balanced combination of dry and green fodder with concentrate mixture supplementation (Table 1, 2 and 3). Silage is made by harvesting fodder crop like oats, sorghum, maize, etc when it is between flowering and milking stage, allowed to dry for 3-4 hours (to reduce moisture content to 65%-70%), after chaffing to reasonable cuts are evenly distributed in silo pit, salts at 0.5% and urea at 1% are added, trampling is done with tractor to reduce air space, the silo is covered with paddy straw, then covered with polyethene and then with soil lumps to seal the material preventing the entry of air. Silage is ready for use after two months of storage. Body measurements viz. body length, height at withers, chest girth and pelvic girth were taken in animals of age group 1.5-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-8 years. All the observations were taken singly, at every time using rewinding measuring tape scaled in centimetres.

Statistical Analysis

The data obtained were expressed as mean ± SE after analysing by using by standard methods (Snedecor and Cochran, 1994).

Table1: Feeding schedule followed at MLRI for crossbred cattle

Feeding/Day Autumn Winter
Physiological Stage Physiological Stage
Lactating Dry Heifers Lactating Dry Heifers
Concentrates (kg) 4 3 2 4 3 2
Green roughages (kg) 12 12 8
Grazing (hours) 7 7 7
Silage(kg) 8 8 4
Turnip(kg) 2 2 1

Table 2: Fodders available at MLRI in autumn and winter season

Fodders Autumn Winter
September + October November December January + February
Green maize

(4.14% DCP, 7.77% TDN)

+
Green Berseem

(3.68% DCP, 43.04% TDN)

+
Green sorghum

(3.44% DCP, 54.03% TDN)

+
Oats hay

(7.13% DCP, 72.73% TDN)

+ + +
White Clover

(8.23% DCP, 56.27 %TDN)

+
Maize straw

(1%DCP, 16%TDN)

+
Silage of Oats and MP-Cherry

(4.14% DCP, 67.77% TDN)

+ + +
Turnip

(12% CP, 77.77% TDN)

+ +
Urea molasses treated hay (1.38% DCP and 50.61% TDN) +

+ Present, -Absent; %DCP and %TDN on dry matter basis

Table 3: Composition of concentrate mixture

Ingredients Parts
Maize 25
Mustard oil cake 20
Deoiled rice bran 19
Wheat bran 17
Molasses 5
Urea 2
Mineral mixture 1
Common salt 1

Results and Discussions

BCS of crossbred cows were significantly (P<0.05) lower in early lactation stage and non-significantly lower in mid lactation, calving stage and heifer in winter as compare to autumn season (Table 4 and Fig. 1).

Table 4: Mean value of BCS of crossbred cattle during different physiological stages in winter and autumn season

Physiological Stage Autumn Winter
Calving stage 3.69±0.21(8) 3.64±0.17(15)
Early lactation 4.02±0.13a (19) 3.48±0.12b (18)
Mid lactation 3.87±0.01(37) 3.36±0.10(23)
Late lactation 3.58±0.01(41) 3.72±0.12(23)
Dry period 3.76±0.12 (12) 3.78±0.08(38)
Heifer 4.17±0.12(30) 3.91±0.104(30)

Mean showing different superscripts (a, b & c) in a row differ significantly at P<0.05. Number in parenthesis (n) depicts number of observation.

Fig 1: BCS of crossbred cattle during different physiological stages in different seasons

Among the different months BCS of crossbred cows were low in November and December months with mean values of 4.02±0.2 and 3.85±0.4 for calving stage, 3.40±0.29 and 3.21±0.13 for early lactation, 3.29±0.16 and 3.31±0.17 for mid lactation, 3.43±0.29 and 3.40±0.18 for late lactation 3.62±0.12 and 3.63±0.15 for dry period, and 4.05±0.15 and 3.86±0.14 for heifers, respectively (Table 5 and Fig. 2). This was in conformity with the findings of Drennan and Berry (2006) who reported that cows lost most of their BCS and live weight in winter season, as cows in parity of 1, 2, 3 to 7 and >7 had initial live weight of 523, 549, 614 and 623 kg and suffered loss of 61, 52, 65 and 67 kg live weight, respectively in winter. Duguma et al. (2013) also reported that there occurs a decline and rise in average BCS and body weight in between different seasons. Weather fluctuations influenced the condition scores, especially when animals are subjected to outside environmental conditions. Increased body condition score gives the animal increased insulation and energy reserves during periods of inclement weather (Mishra et al., 2016). The decrease in BCS during winter months might be due to nutritional deficiency and cold stress (season change). There was a decrease in BCS from calving to early lactation irrespective of different seasons. Similarly things were reported by Koenen et al., 2001 that BCS declines linearly after calving during first month.

Table 5: Mean value of BCS of crossbred cattle during different physiological stages in different months

Physiological stage Autumn Winter
September October November December January February
Calving stage 4.21±0.11 4.16±0.21 4.02±0.23 3.85±0.43 3.72±0.27 3.43±0.29
-4 -2 -2 -3 -4 -8
Early lactation 3.69±0.21a(8) 3.62±0.12a(7) 3.40±0.29ac(4) 3.21±0.13abc(4) 3.14±0.20bc(5) 2.91±0.11b(9)
Mid lactation 3.56±0.19ab(17) 3.42±0.48ab(11) 3.29±0.16b 3.31±0.17ab(10) 3.64±0.78ab(7) 3.72±0.09a(6)
(-9)
Late lactation 3.64±0.25ab(6) 3.63±0.17ab(15) 3.43±0.29b 3.46±0.18b(11) 3.62±0.21ab(6) 4.03±0.19a(6)
-20
Dry period 3.86±0.11ab(4) 3.92±0.13ab(4) 3.62±0.12bc(4) 3.63±0.15bc 3.74±0.13ab(17) 4.10±0.19a(10)
(-11)
Heifer 4.17±0.15 4.20±0.14 4.05±0.15 3.86±0.14 3.99±0.23 4.02±0.09
-10 -10 -10 -10 -10 -10

Mean showing different superscripts (a, b & c) in a row differ significantly at P<0.05. Number in parenthesis (n) depicts number of observation.

Body Morphometry and Age of Crossbred Cattle

Body length and height at withers increased significantly (P<0.05) with age upto 3 years. Thereafter it remained constant in 3-4 and 4-5 years and it increased non-significantly in 5-8 age group crossbred cows. Chest girth and pelvic girth increased significantly (P<0.05) with age of crossbred cows (Table6).

Fig 2: BCS of crossbred cattle during different physiological stages in different months

Table 6: Mean value of body morphometry of crossbred cattle in different age groups

Age (years) Body Length (cm) Height at withers (cm) Chest girth (cm) Pelvic girth (cm) Body weight (kg)
1.5-2(-11) 117.09±1.16b 112.54±0.54b 144.00±1.19c 149.82±5.29d 164.36±2.89c
2-3 (7) 121.43±1.36a 117.14±2.12a 151.43±1.83b 154.44±1.93c 204.28±4.57b
3-4 (14) 123.64±1.16a 118.34±1.06a 153.64±1.34ab 159.28±1.34b 210.14±5.02b
4-5 (9) 123.82±1.22a 118.56±1.11a 153.78±1.93ab 160.67±3.07ab 218.14±8.29b
5-8 (13) 124.70±1.02a 118.32±1.60a 156.96±1.68a 164.80±1.26a 250.62±10.13a

Mean showing different superscripts (a, b, c & d) in a column differ significantly at P<0.05. Number in parenthesis (n) depicts number of animals.

Earlier reports in this regard have also revealed that body length and height at withers increases with age (Ashaq Manzoor et al., 2017; Bahashwan, 2014; Raji et al., 2014; Banerjee, 2010). As the age advances, there occurs skeletal development which affects the morphometric traits and at maturity around 3 years of age body length reaches to its mature length (Aamir et al., 2010). Earlier reports in this regard have also revealed that chest and pelvic width increases with age (Bahashwan, 2014; Raji et al., 2014). Gallo et al., 2001and Alphonsus et al. (2010) reported that heart and pelvic girth increases with increases in body condition score. This is in accordance with present findings. Body weight increased significantly (P<0.05) with age with mean values of 164.36±2.89, 204.28±4.57, 210.14±5.02, 218.14±8.29 and 250.62±10.13 kg in crossbred cows of age group 1.5-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-8years, respectively. This is in conformity with Bahashwan (2014) and Anitha et al. (2005) who reported that body weight increases with age. Alphonsus et al. (2010) reported that body conformation traits like chest width, wither height, heart girth, body length, body depth, rump width with average body weight and age were positively correlated indicating that taller, wider, deeper and fatter cows tended to be heavier.

Conclusion

BCS of crossbred cattle was comparatively low in winter than autumn season with more depression in months of November and December, so more nutrients should be supplied during this lean period. BCS in all the months of study period was in normal range. Body length and height at withers increased significantly (P<0.05) with age upto 3 years. Chest girth and pelvic girth increased significantly (P<0.05) upto 4 and 5 years of age, respectively, while body weight increased significantly (P<0.05) with age.

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