Calf Health and Management Practices in Small Holder Dairy Farms in and Around Wolaita Sodo Town, Southern Ethiopia

Tekalign Woldehana


A questionnaire, observational (by farm visit) and clinical surveys were conducted to assess management, constraint and major health problems associated with calves found in smallholder dairy farms in and around Wolyita Sodo, Southern Ethiopia.  Considerable proportions (47.15%) of the farmers were female. 54.4% and 32.8% of the dairy farm owners had more than ten and five years of dairy farming experience respectively. In relation with calf management, 78.6% of the owners kept their calves in the same shed as adult animals; more over in 90% of the cases calving location was found to be in the same barn where other animals are kept, on top of this the housesit were poorly constructed in many instances. The majority (77.1%) of the farmers already knew the importance of colostrum feeding, however 15.7% of the owners do not know the appropriate time to feed colostrum to their calves. The majority (75.7%) of the farmers reported providing of supplement feeds for their calves. The following calf health problems were reported by the dairy farm owners when they were asked to list the major disease type they had observed before: still birth, respiratory problem (pneumonia), diarrhoea, loss of weight and constipation, with report proportions of 18.6, 17.1%, 11.4%, 10%, 8.6% respectively. Up on clinical examination, out of the 141 calves examined 44 (31.21%) of them showed clinical sign (health problem), with an overall morbidity (prevalence) of 13. 48%, 12.17%, 9.22% and 0.7%  for pneumonia, diarrhoea , eye infection and abdominal distension respectively, in addition 17.02 % of the examined calves showed a poor body condition. However the body condition of the examined calves was found to have some association with the overall occurrence of any disease problem (χ2 = 9.68, df = 2, P = 0.008). In conclusion, the management and health problems found in calves in this study were could affect the productivity of the dairy farms, therefore effort should be initiated to improve the calves health.

Keywords: Calf, Health problem, Management, Smallholder dairy farms.

DOI: 10.7176/JHMN/96-01

Publication date: December 31st 2021

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