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Parameterizing LivSim for simulating growth of the Ghana shorthorn cattle

Timpong-Jones E.C., Freduah B.S., Adiku S.G.K., Nenkam A., Adam M., Ramilan T., MacCarthy D.S.. 2016. In : Seeking Sustainable Agricultural Solutions AgMIP6 Global Workshop: Oral and poster abstracts. Montpellier : AgMIP, p. 32-32. Global Workshop of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP), 2016-06-28/2016-06-30, Montpellier (France).

An important component of the farming system in Ghana is livestock production. Livestock, especially cattle production is heavily dependent on rainfall for the production of forages to feed them. Projected increase in temperature and shifts in rainfall patterns due to climate change is expected to affect the level of livestock production and livelihood of the resource poor animal herders in Ghana. To gain insight into the livestock-climate nexus, we conducted a study in Tamale in the Northern region of Ghana to parameterize the LivSim (Livestock Simulator) model for the simulation of growth of the Ghana Shorthorn cattle. The main objective was to quantify milk and calf production by the various smallholder farmers in the community. A survey of 261 households out of which 96 owned livestock was conducted to obtain observed data on milk yield, calving frequencies, among others. Other data required by LivSIM such as the minimum and maximum bodyweights of both male and female Ghana Shorthorn were obtained from the literature. The number of cattle owned by the households interviewed ranged from 2-47 with majority having a herd size less than twelve. The herd composition was estimated to be 72% female and 28% male. Preliminary simulation results showed that the herd dynamics could be well captured for an initial period of 5 years, after which there was divergence between the simulated and the observed. Further current efforts are directed to the improvement in parameter values especially those relating to the potential growth rates and the compensatory growth rate.

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