Comparative performance of dairy cows in low-input smallholder and high-input production systems in South Africa
- 21 Downloads
The aim of this study was to benchmark the performance of dairy cows in the low-input smallholder system against their counterparts in the high-input system, in South Africa. Data comprised of cow performance records from the national dairy recording scheme. Performance measures included production (305-day yields of milk, fat, and protein), lactation length, somatic cell count (SCC), and reproductive traits, represented by age at first calving (AFC) and calving interval (CI). Least squares means of each trait were compared between the two systems, and lactation curves for production traits and SCC were plotted for each production system. Mean yields of milk, fat, and protein were significantly (P < 0.05) lower in the smallholder (4097 ± 165, 174 ± 5.1, and 141 ± 4.5 respectively) compared to the high-input system (6921 ± 141, 298 ± 4.7, and 245 ± 4.1 respectively). Mean lactation length was significantly (P < 0.05) shorter for the smallholder (308 ± 15.1) than the high-input system (346 ± 12.8). Log-transformed somatic cell count (SCS) was, however, significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the smallholder (2.41 ± 0.01) relative to the high-input system (2.27 ± 0.01). Cows in high-input herds showed typical lactation curves, in contrast to the flat and low peaking curves obtained for the smallholder system. Cows on smallholder herds had their first calving significantly (P < 0.05) older (30 ± 0.5) than those in the high-input system (27 ± 0.5). There was, however, no significant difference (P < 0.05) in CI between the two systems. These results highlight large room for improvement of dairy cow performance in the smallholder system and could assist in decision-making aimed at improving the productivity of the South African dairy industry.
KeywordsLactation curve Production Reproduction Somatic cell count
The authors acknowledge the support from the University of Pretoria and the South African, Agricultural Research Council-Animal Production Institute.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Banga, C.B., 2000. Milk recording for the smallholder sector in South Africa. In: Dairy Herd Improvement in South Africa. Eds: Loubser, L.F.B., Banga, C.B., Scholtz, M.M. and Hallowell, G.J., Agricultural Research Council, Animal Improvement Institute, Irene, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Banga, C.B., Neser, F.W.C. and Garrick, D.J., 2014. The economic value of somatic cell count in South African Holstein and Jersey cattle: short communication. South African Journal Animal Science, 44, 173–177.Google Scholar
- Burke, C.R., Williams, Y.J., Hofmann, L., Kay, J.K., Phyn, C.V.C. and Meier, S., 2010. Effects of an acute feed restriction at the onset of the seasonal breeding period on reproductive performance and milk production in pasture-grazed dairy cows. Journal of dairy science, 93, 1116–1125.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cassandro, M., 2014. Genetic aspects of fertility traits in dairy cattle-review. Acta Agraria Kaposváriensis, 18, 11–23.Google Scholar
- DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), 2016. Trends in the Agricultural Sector, 2015. Published by, Directorate: Communication Services of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Pretoria-South Africa.Google Scholar
- Frandsen, J. 2015. Benchmarking in dairy production: “How to transform data to valuable decision support” In: Performance recording in the genotyped world, Kowalski, Z., Petreny, N., Burke, M., Bucek, P., Journaux, L., Coffey, M., Hunlun, C. and Radzio, D. (editors), Technical Series, 19, pp. 63–67. Proceedings of the ICAR Technical Meeting held in Krakow, Poland, 10–12 June 2015. ICARGoogle Scholar
- Goni, S., 2014. Production and reproduction performance of Jersey and Fleckvieh× Jersey cows in a pasture-based system (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University).Google Scholar
- Hossein-Zadeh, N.G., 2013. Factors affecting lactation length and effect of current lactation length on the subsequent production and reproduction in Iranian Holsteins. Tierzucht, 56, 873–881.Google Scholar
- Lacto data, 2016. Statistics: A Milk SA publication compiled by Coetzee, 2016, 19(1): 1–31. www.milksa.co.za/sites/default/files/BIPLAC020%20May%202015.pdf.
- Logar, B. and Jeretina, J., 2015. Web advisory tools to support dairy production in Slovenian herds. In: Performance recording in the genotyped world, Kowalski, Z., Petreny, N., Burke, M., Bucek, P., Journaux, L., Coffey, M., Hunlun, C. and Radzio, D. (editors), ICAR Technical Series 2015, No. 19, pp. 73–78. Proceedings of the ICAR Technical Meeting held in Krakow, Poland, 10–12 June, 2015.Google Scholar
- Meyer, M. J, Everett, R. W, and van Amburgh, M.E. 2004. Reduced age at first calving: effects on lifetime production, longevity, and profitability. In ‘Dairy Day 2004’. (Ed. JS Srevenson) pp. 42–52. (Kansas State University: Tempe, AZ).Google Scholar
- Mostert, B.E. 2007. The suitability of test-day models for genetic evaluation of dairy cattle in South Africa (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pretoria Pretoria).Google Scholar
- Muller, C.J.C., Potgieter, J.P. and Cloete, S.W.P., 2014. The Fertility of South African Holstein and Jersey Heifers. In 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Vancouver, BC, Canada.Google Scholar
- Ndambi O. A, Hemme, T., and Latacz-Lohmann, U. 2007. Dairying in Africa-Status and recent developments. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 19, Article #111. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd19/8/ndam19111.htm.
- Němečková, D., Stádník, L. and Čítek, J., 2015. Associations between milk production level, calving interval length, lactation curve parameters and economic results in Holstein cows. Mljekarstvo: časopis za unaprjeđenje proizvodnje i prerade mlijeka, 65, 243–250.Google Scholar
- Remppis, S., Steingass, H., Gruber, L., and Schenkel, H. 2011. Effects of energy intake on performance, mobilization and retention of body tissue, and metabolic parameters in dairy cows with special regard to effects of pre-partum nutrition on lactation-A Review. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science, 24, 540–572.Google Scholar
- Statistical Analysis System (SAS) (2016) Statistical Analysis System User’s Guide, Version 9.1.3. SAS Institute Inc, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.Google Scholar
- Swanepoel, F., Stroebel, A., and Moyo, S. 2010. The role of livestock in developing communities: enhancing multifunctionalities. University of the free state and CTA. Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Syrstad, O., 1993. Milk yield and lactation length in tropical cattle. World Animal Review, 74/75, 68–78.Google Scholar
- Theron, H.E., and Mostert, B.E. 2009. Production and breeding performance of South African dairy herds. South African Journal Animal Science, 39, 206–210.Google Scholar
- Urdl, M., Gruber, L., Obritzhauser, W., and Schauer, A. 2015. Metabolic parameters and their relationship to energy balance in multiparous Simmental, Brown Swiss and Holstein cows in the periparturient period as influenced by energy supply pre-and post-calving. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 99, 174–189.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar