Using body measurements to estimate live weight of dairy cattle in low-input systems in Senegal uri icon

abstract

  • We investigated the prediction of live weight (LW) of dairy cattle in low-to medium-input systems in Senegal, based on measurements of heart girth (HG) and height at the withers (HW). A total of 459 female dairy cattle, mainly comprising indigenous Zebu and their crosses with Guzerat or Bos Taurus, were weighed (kg), and their HG (cm) and HW (cm) determined. Farmers were asked to provide their own weight estimates for each animal. The single explanatory variable that explained the most variation in LW was HG. The best model to predict LW from HG for the overall data was LW = 4.81 HG - 437.52 with an adjusted R-2 of 0.85 and a root mean square error of 34.25 kg corresponding to 11.10% of the mean LW. This model predicted the LW of 91-100% of cows and 64-100% of heifers within 20% of their true-live weight, in the weight range of about 100-500 kg. In comparison, farmers could only estimate the LW of about a quarter of their animals within 20% of their true LW. This weight prediction equation, when translated into a weigh band, could provide a simple and reliable method for cattle keepers to estimate the weight of studied cattle breed types.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018