A feeding management system for N’dama Calves

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A study was conducted with 24 N’dama calves of an average age of 3.83 ± 0.50 months and weight of 60.58 ± 2.93 kg as part of effort being made to develop a feeding management system for N’dama calves. The calves were placed into 4 feeding management systems (FMS) of 6 calves (3 females and 3 males) each. Calves in feeding management system one (FMS 1) were not weaned. They continued to suckle and were sent for grazing. Those in feeding management system two (FMS 2) were weaned and sent for grazing without feed supplementation. Feeding management system three (FMS 3) was made up of weaned calves which were grazed and supplemented with between 1.00 – 2.00 kg of concentrate with a crude protein (CP) content of 22.78% (on dry matter basis) per day per calf. Calves in feeding management system four (FMS 4) were weaned, confined and given between 1.00 – 2.00 kg of concentrate and grass at the rate of about 3% of their body weight. Average growth rates during the dry season were 0.16 ± 0.08, 0.07 ± 0, 0.23 ± 0.11 and 0.33 ± 0.10 kg/day for FMS 1, FMS 2, FMS 3 and FMS 4 respectively while the corresponding daily growth rates for the rainy season were 0.24 ± 0.07, 0.06 ± 0.06, 0.23 ± 0.07 and 0.34 ± 0.09 kg. A mortality rate of 33.33 ± 51.64%, 66.67 ± 51.64%, 16.67 ± 40.82% and 0.00% were recorded for FMS 1, FMS 2, FMS 3 and FMS 4 respectively. The overall daily average growth rate for calves in FMS 4 (0.34 kg/day) was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than those for calves in FMS 1 (0.23 kg/day), FMS 2 (0.07 kg/day) and FMS 3 (0.23 kg/day) but the difference between FMS 1 and FMS 3 was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Growth rate was not affected by sex of calves. Generally, haematological (Hb, PCV and WBC) and biochemical (glucose, cholesterol, xiii total protein, albumin and globulin) indices measured revealed that some grazing calves were infected and malnourished. The weaned N’dama calves in the supplemented systems (FMS 3 and FMS 4) had higher growth rate and prevailed over weight losses and mortality. Net income for FMS 1, FMS 2, FMS 3 and FMS 4 were GH¢ 1,713.00, GH¢ 498.00, GH¢ 1220.73 and GH¢ 1297.15 respectively. The current results suggest that if N’dama calves are weaned at 3.83 ± 0.50 months old and at 60.58 ± 2.93 kg of weight then FMS 4 would be a better management system to reduce mortality and promote rapid growth. But further research has to be conducted to improve the short term economic performance of N’dama calves in the system to help promote the livestock industry.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Animal Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Animal Nutrition, 2010