Evaluation of smallholder dairy calf rearing systems in Zimbabwe
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Women's University in Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Open University, Harare, Zimbabwe
A survey was carried out in Wedza and Marirangwe dairy schemes to characterise calf rearing systems in smallholder dairy schemes in Zimbabwe. This was prompted by the reported high calf mortalities and shortage of dairy replacement heifers. A total of 36 farmers participated in the survey. The data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17. The most common dairy breed being used by smallholder farmers in the two areas was the Red Dane. Artificial insemination was used by most farmers in Wedza. Most of the farmers had no calf weighing facilities and did not ensure colostrum management resulting in increased risk of calf death. Calf feeding management was poor, since most farmers used dairy meal instead of calf starter meal. Calves were weaned through separation of paddocks and use of weaner plates. Interna and external parasite control was practised by most farmers. Calf scours and coccidiosis were the major causes of calf mortalities. The majority of farmers reported that feed was the main constraint affecting production.