Change in growth performance of crossbred (Ankole × Jersey) dairy heifers fed on forage grass diets supplemented with commercial concentrates. uri icon

abstract

  • Rearing heifers for dairy cow replacement is a challenge in smallholder dairy farms in the tropics due to feed shortage. The objective of this study was to evaluate Brachiaria hybrid cultivar Mulato II as a forage resource for improving growth performance of dairy heifers under cut-and-carry feeding system in Rwanda. Sixteen crossbred (Ankole x Jersey) heifers (mean weight 203 +/- 35 kg) were randomly allocated to two dietary treatments viz: Mulato II with 2 kg/day of commercial concentrates (MCC) and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with the same supplement (NCC), for a period of 12 weeks. Mineral lick and water were provided ad libitum. Daily feed intake and fortnightly live weight were measured. Average daily gains and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were calculated. Results showed that absolute daily dry matter intake (g DMI/day) and relative intake (g/kg of metabolic body weight-BW0.75) were higher in heifers fed on MCC than in heifers fed on NCC (P < 0.001). FCR was lower (P < 0.001) in MCC than NCC diets. Final body weight (FBW) and body weight gain (BWG) did not differ between the two groups of heifers (P > 0.05). Average daily weight gain (ADWG) also not differed significantly (P > 0.05). Based on numerical body weight changes and nutritive values, Mulato II showed potential to be integrated into local cut-and-carry feeding systems for better heifer rearing to facilitate dairy cow replacement.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016
  • 2016