Fipa Cattle In The Southwestern Highlands Of Tanzania: Desired Attributes, Breeding Practices And Productive Performance
Published 2012 · Biology
Farmers in different cattle production systems have different trait preferences and breeding strategies that need an investigation before designing any sustainable breeding plan. The present study was undertaken to assess characteristics deemed desirable, breeding practices and productive performance of Fipa cattle in three districts of southwestern highlands of Tanzania, using a structured questionnaire. The majority of farmers perceived body size (91.7 percent), body conformation (85 percent), body colours (85 percent), disease resistance (87.5 percent), heat/drought tolerance (82.5 percent), draught power (87.5 percent), better carcass (84.2 percent) and fertility (70.8 percent) as the most important attributes of the Fipa cattle. Most (91.6 percent) farmers preferred pure breeding to cross-breeding in order to maintain the genetic purity of the strain. Mating practice was random among the majority (95.8 percent) of the farmsteads owing to non-availability of breeding bulls for each individual farmstead (43.3 percent) and also owing to grazing on communal rangelands (52.5 percent). Selection of breeding bulls was rarely rationally done. Age at first calving was 50 ± 1.3 months, while lactation length and calving interval were 7.1 ± 2.8 and 15.5 ± 0.6 months, respectively. Mean daily milk yield at peak was 3.35 ± 0.15 litres, while longevity was 10.78 ± 0.59, 14.56 ± 0.50 and 15.48 ± 0.55 years for bulls, cows and castrates, respectively. The farmers� preference for certain attributes and the inherent performance variability should be deployed as the entry point for participatory establishment of improvement and sustainable utilization strategies of the strain.