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Development of a standardized body condition score for native cattle in Uganda


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Poster by E.S. Dierenfeld & B. Lukuyu for the 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture and the 18th Annual Meeting of the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP), Addis Ababa, October 25-28, 2010

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Development of a standardized body condition score for native cattle in Uganda

  1. 1. Development of a Standardized Body Condition Score for Native Cattle in Uganda E.S. Dierenfeld & B. Lukuyu 1 2 1 Novus International, Inc., St. Charles, MO USA 2 International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, KENYA 1. Introduction Score 1. Very Thin 2. Underweight 3. Ideal 4. Overweight 5. Obese Body Condition Scores (BCS) are associated with improved animal Performance, Husbandry, and Welfare. BCS changes over season, and correlations with heart girth/body weights, milk production, and calving management have been reported for various breeds Outline Depictions including dairy cattle. We developed and are evaluating this management tool for application to native Ankole cattle in Uganda, as part of a larger study of pasture quality and dry season supplementation. OBJECTIVE: To develop a BCS system for Ankole cattle that correlates with production parameters Photo Examples 2. Methods Based on farmer interviews, published literature, and charts developed for other breeds, we targeted breed characteristics and defined initial conformation criteria to establish a standardized visual scoring system (depicted at right). Rear End View Validation of these descriptions, and correlations with milk production will be tested: • Eight farms with at least 20 cattle in the Kayunga district of NE Uganda identified to participate Emaciated, bone structure is Bone structure is visible, very lean Lean and fit, decreased visibilty of Plump, round, fat deposits present Plump, round, fat deposits present • Individual animals to be scored on bi-weekly basis over 6-mo Overall prominent, skeletal, no fat bone structure period through long dry season Condition • Body weights will be estimated with heart girth tape, and milk Hooks and horizontal Horizontal processes and hooks Hooks visible but well covered Hooks well padded, horizontal Hooks are not visible production quantified weekly Hips processes prominent visible, some fat cover processes barely visible • Pasture quality contribution to nutritional status will be monitored throughout study Individual ribs very apparent Individual ribs are visible with Ribs can barely be seen, Ribs cannot be seen and Ribs cannot be felt and are thickly Ribs some fat cover some fat cover are padded, abdomen padded, abdomen grossly rounded somewhat rounded 3. Conclusions Tailhead Deep cavity near tailhead, spine prominent Some fat cover on tail head, pin bones prominent, little fat on loin Only slight depression in loin, fat cover on tailhead Tailhead slightly sunken in, fat deposits Mounds of fat around tailhead By targeting specific characteristics of the local breed, we and Loin anticipate implementation of this practical management tool to No brisket Brisket present, very little fat Slight brisket Brisket is plump Brisket is full of fat assist management and husbandry of native dairy cattle. Training Brisket programs will emphasize application of optimal BCS criteria at critical life stages – early lactation, at calving, and maintenance through the long dry season. The system will be refined, if needed, based on farmer feedback/inputs.