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Relationships between N'Dama cow body condition score and production performance under an extensive range management system in Southern Senegal : calf weight gain, milk production, porbability of pregnancy, and juvenile mortality

Ezanno P., Ickowicz A., Lancelot R.. 2005. Livestock Production Science, 92 (3) : p. 291-306.

DOI: 10.1016/j.livprodsci.2004.09.001

This study aimed to determine the relationships between N'Dama cows body condition score (BCS) and (i) calf growth and the milk collected; and (ii) the probabilities of pregnancy and juvenile mortality. Animals from 10 herds ranging from 20 to 210 animals in herd size were followed monthly in an extensive range management system in Southern Senegal between 1993 and 1998. For daily weight gains and milk collected, linear mixed-effects models were fitted between calving and 6 months postpartum. Cow lactation was included as random effect, with an unstructured variance-covariance matrix. Calving season, parity, herd size, and calving BCS were the fixed effects. For the probabilities of pregnancy and juvenile mortality, survival models for grouped data were fitted on a monthly scale. The model selection was based on the Akaike information criteria. In large herds, calving BCS had little effect on milk production. In small herds, calves born to cows scoring =2.5 points at calving grew quicker and their dam were more milked. The relative difference in milk production between thin and fat cows averaged 23%. The relative gain was higher in the cool dry season than in the other seasons, and for primiparous than for multiparous cows. Except during the hot dry season, the probability of pregnancy was twice as high for cows scoring =2.5 points the two previous months than for other cows. The BCS had no effect on calf survival until 1 year of age in large herds. In small herds, calves born to thin cows at calving showed a survival at 1 year more than five points lower.

Mots-clés : bovin; vache; Élevage extensif; niveau d'alimentation; sous-alimentation; performance animale; gain de poids; performance de reproduction; lactation; sénégal

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