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EFFECTS OF BREED, VARIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL AND MATERNAL FACTORS ON GROWTH TRAITS IN CATTLE.

Byline: M. Moaeen-ud-Din and G. Bilal

ABSTRACT

The objectives of the present study were to investigate the effects of breed, sex, parity, year of birth and season of birth on birth weight, weaning weight and yearling weight recorded on 713 calves born between 1996 and 2008. The data included offspring from five local cattle breeds (Dhanni, Lohani, Dajal, Red Sindhi, Cholistani) and crossbreds (Holstein or Jersey crosses) maintained at Barani Livestock Production Research Institute (BLPRI, Attock, Punjab, Pakistan).The data were analyzed using a mixed linear model with PROC MIXED. Overall means +- SD of birth, weaning and yearling weights, pre- and post-weaning growth rates were18.67 +- 2.60 kg, 72.88 +- 18.98kg, 116.05 +- 30.63 kg, 301.18 +- 104.03 g and 239.86 +- 117.32 g, respectively. All growth traits (birth weight, weaning weight and pre- and post-weaning growth rates) varied with breed, sex, parity of dam and season and year of birth.

The calves of Lohani cattle (a short stature breed) had the lightest birth weights (16.4 kg) as compared to other breeds and crossbreds (> 18 kg). The heaviest weaning weights (91.25 kg) were found in calves from the Dajal breed, followed by weaning weight s for Dhanni (78.54 kg), Cholistani (70.68 kg), Red Sindhi (70.46 kg) and Lohani (64.0 kg). The heaviest yearling weights were found in Dajal calves (148.48 kg) while the lowest yearling weights were found in Lohani calves (99.81 kg). Overall, birth, weaning and yearling weights were greater in male as compared to female calves (P 19 kg) followed by Red Sindhi and Dhanni (between 18 and 19 kg), whereas Lohani had lowest birth weights (<17kg)(Table 2). Birth weights of other Bos indicus cattle are comparable to the results from present study. For instance purebred Brahman cattle calves had an average birthweight of 29.6kg as reported by Comerford et al., (1988).Although birth weight of calves depends upon several factors including sex, dam size, temperature and maternal nutrition, however different size of breeds may have contributed to the differences in calf birth weights. Research has shown that the birth weight of the calf would be approximately 7% of the dam's body weight(Westhuizen and Bergh, 2014).

In a study on dairy cows, Linden et al.,(2009) demonstrated a linear relationship between cow height at parturition (distance from the floor to the upper end of the withers) and calf birth weightsuggesting that bigger cows are likely to produce heavier calves.

Males had heavier birth weights than female calves(Table 3). Male calves weigh approximately 5 to 8% more at birth than female calves. It might be attributed, at least partially, to the effect of the testosterone. Higher level of endogenous testosterone is associated with increased growth and carcass cutability in beef cattle (Gortsema et al., 1974). Development of the male reproductive tract administered by testosterone secretion from the Leydig cells, begins as early as day 42 of gestation (Ball and Peters, 2004). This may partially explain higher birth weight of male calves compared to female calves as reported in the present study.

Calves born to first parity cows were generally lighter than later parity cows(Table 4), which is comparable to earlier findings in beef cattle (Krupa et al.,2005; Afroz et al., 2011; TouA!ova et al., 2014) and buffaloes (Saravaiya et al., 1992; Naqvi and Shami, 1999).Parity is presumed to produce its pragmatic effect through changes in the maternal environmental conditions(Foote et al., 1960).

Birth weights of calves were similar among all four seasons (Table 5) suggesting that season of birth was unrelated to birth weight of calves. Shahzad et al.,(2010) also noted a non-significant effect of season on birth weight of Cholistani calves in Pakistan. Birth weight of calves significantly varied with year of birth (Table 6), although no clear trend was observed for the effect of the birth year. In a previous study on Cholistani calves it has been observed that year, sex and dam parity affected the birth weights of calves (Shahzad et al., 2010).

Weaning weight: Dajal breed of cattle was heavier (P<0.05) in weaning weight (91.25kg) followed by Dhanni (78.54 kg).Dajal and Dhanni cattle breeds are considered medium draught breeds of Punjab, Pakistan (Table 2). However, their status is endemic in terms of utility and conservation (Khan et al., 2008). Three dairy type cattle (Red Sindhi, Cholistani and Crossbred) had similar weaning weights (approximately 70 kg). Lohani cattle had lowest weaning weight (64 kg) among all breeds studied. Lohani is a short stature cattle breed, which is primarily used for light draught and is found in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab provinces of Pakistan (Khan et al., 2008). The breed conservation status of Lohani cattle is also endemic as reported by (Khan et al., 2008).

Overall, male calves had higher (P<0.05) weaning weights than female calves (Table 3) indicating slightly more advantage of raising a male calve than a female calf. It is worth mentioning that although the male calves grew faster, the heifer calves also showed good growth. Furthermore, as noted by (A eba, 2013) the fattening of heifers could be another choice for farmers, as in previous study heifer calves showed a better beef quality, especially tenderness (Hanzelkova et al., 2011). However only a few farmers are interested in fattening of this category and slaughter heifers are generally considered to be more of a waste. Weaning weight of calves born to first and later parity cows was similar suggesting that parity of dam is less important in determining weaning weight of their calves (Table 4).

Weaning weight of spring born calves was higher (P<0.05) followed by winter, autumn and summer (Table 5). The weaning weight of calves showed inconsistent pattern for year of birth factor although the effect of birth year on weaning weight was significant (P < 0.05). In a study on calves from seven beef breeds in Hungary, Szabo et al.,(2006) noted significant effects of age of dam, birth year, birth season and sex of calf on weaning weight.

Yearling weight: In line with the pattern of weaning weight data, Dajal breed of cattle showed highest yearling weight (148.5 kg) followed by Dhanni (121.4 kg), Crossbred, Cholistani, Red Sindhi (between 111 to 113.2 kg) and Lohani (99. 8 kg)as shown in Table 2. The between breeds results of weaning as well as yearling weight suggest that local draught cattle breeds (especially Dajal, and Dhanni) had greater potential for higher body weights as compared to Crossbreds and local dairy cattle breeds (Red Sindhi and Choistani). Additionally, Lohani cattle, being short statured breed showed good potential for growth. The maintenance and other management requirements of such a short stature breed could be lesser than larger breeds suggesting a new prospective for beef farmers to make the most of it.

Overall, male calves were heavier (P<0.05) than female calves at one year of age(Table 3). Calves born to first parity cows were lighter (P<0.05) than those born to later parity cows (Table 4). Moreover, calves born in Summer were lighter (P < 0.05) than calves born in other seasons (Spring, Autumn, Winter)as shown in Table 5. This could be attributed to lesser availability of feed resources in scarcity period of Summer that is generally longer in the region as compared to other lean periods i.e. Autumn. The yearling weight of calves varied with year of birth (P < 0.05) but showed irregular pattern across the years of birth(Table 6).

The findings of current study argue the possibility of improving local draught cattle breeds as potential beef cattle in Pakistan where, so far, no specific beef cattle breed exists. A genetic selection program for greater growth rate and improved beef quality may be initiated in these local draught breeds (Dajal, Dhanni and Lohani) to fulfill the ever increasing demand for beef in the country and possibility of becoming an export point in the world. That will also conserve the precious genetic resources that country has. Dhanni and Dajal are already considered preferred sacrificial animals at the occasion of Eidul Azha (an yearly Muslim festival) where Muslims sacrifice (slaughter in the name of Allah) thousands of animals all over the world each year. Therefore, there is a promising market for beef in and out of the country for local beef breeders.

Pre- and Post-weaning Growth Rate: Growth traits were significantly affected by the breed of the calves (Table 2). Dajal had higher (P<0.05)pre-weaning growth rate (PRGR) followed by Dhanni, Red Sindhi, Cholistani, Crossbred and Lohani. For post-weaning growth rate (POGR), the order from higher to lower was Dajal, Crossbred, Dhanni, Red Sindhi, Cholistani and Lohani. Although Dajal had lowest number (i.e. N=21) among all breeds in the present study, nonetheless, it seems to have greater potential for growth under arid conditions. The second higher was Dhanni breed in pre-and post-weaning growth rates. On the other hand, Lohani were the lowest in all body weight and growth traits than rest of the cattle breeds. Crossbred cattle, which are mainly bred and raised for milk production, had higher POGR (P < 0.05) than Lohani; similar POGR to Dhanni, Red Sindhi and Cholistani but lower POGR than Dajal breed. Male calves had higher (P<0.05) PRGR and POGR than female calves (Table 3).

Calves born to first and later parity dams had similar PRGR and POGR (Table 4). This indicates that preference may be given to Dajal breed over crossbred in fattening yards. Calves born in Spring had highest PRGR followed by Winter, Autumn and Summer. For POGR, calves born in Winter had higher growth rate followed by Autumn, Spring and Summer (Table 5). Both PRGR and POGR were significantly affected by year of birth although no particular trend was observed (Table 6).

Table 1. Basic Statistics of the growth traits in Pakistani cattle breeds.

Trait###No. of Records (N)###Mean +- SD###Min.###Max.

Birth Weight (kg)###713###18.67 +- 2.60###12###34

Weaning Weight (kg)###713###72.88 +- 18.98###50###172

Yearling Weight (kg)###713###116.05 +- 30.63###70###252

Pre-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###713###301.18 +- 104.03###138.89###844.44

Post-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###713###239.86 +- 117.32###94.44###944.44

Table 2. Effects of breed on growth traits of calves in Pakistani cattle breeds.

Trait###Estimates of Least Square Means (+- S.E.)

###Dhanni###Lohani###Red Sindhi###Cholistani###Dajal###Crossbred###Overall

###(N=178)###(N=142)###(N=130)###(N=44)###(N=21)###(N=198)###P-value

Birth Weight (kg)###18.1625a###16.4451b###18.2063ac###19.9878d###19.2660acde###19.9918df###<.0001*

###+-0.1831###+- 0.2112###+- 0.2096###+- 0.3672###+- 0.4948###+- 0.1758

Weaning Weight (kg)###78.5410a###64.0017b###70.4637bc###70.6805abcd###91.2525ae###69.4463bcdf###<.0001*

###+-1.3815###+- 1.5941###+-1.5817###+- 2.7707###+- 3.7338###+- 1.3265

Yearling Weight (kg)###121.44a###99.8066b###112.90ac###111.64abcd###148.48e###113.21acdf###<.0001*

###+-2.2079###+- 2.5476###+- 2.5277###+- 4.4280###+- 5.9671###+- 2.1198

Pre-Weaning Growth Rate###335.44a###264.20b###290.32bc###281.63bcd###399.93ae###274.75bcdf###<.0001*

(g/day)###+-7.5396###+- 8.6997###+- 8.6318###+-15.1212###+- 20.3770###+- 7.2391

Post-Weaning Growth Rate###238.33a###198.92ab###235.76abc###227.54abcd###317.94acde###243.13acdef###<.0001*

(g/day)###+-9.1333###+-10.5386###+-10.4563###+-18.3174###+- 24.6841###+- 8.7692

Table 3. Effects of sex on growth traits of calves in Pakistani cattle.

###Least Square Means ( +- S.E.)

Trait

###Male (N=376)###Female (N=337)###Overall P-value

Birth Weight (kg)###19.0275a +- 0.1619###18.3257b +- 0.1713###<.0001*

Weaning Weight (kg)###75.9862a +- 1.2218###72.1424b +- 1.2927###0.0023*

Yearling Weight (kg)###123.17a +- 1.9526###112.66b +- 2.0660###<.0001*

Pre-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###316.44a +- 6.6679###298.98b +- 7.0550###0.0113*

Post-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###262.12a +- 8.0773###225.09b +- 8.5463###<.0001*

Table 4. Effects of parity of dam on growth traits of calves in Pakistani cattle.

###Least Square Means (+- S.E.)

Trait

###Parity 1 (N=119)###Parity 2 (N=594)###Overall P-value

Birth Weight (kg)

###1 18.3482a +- 0.2317###19.0050b +- 0.1186###0.0042*

Weaning Weight (kg)###72.5554 +- 1.7484###75.5732 +- 0.8948###0.0805

Yearling Weight (kg)###114.54a +- 2.7942###121.29b +- 1.4300###0.0146*

Pre-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###301.15 +- 9.5418###314.27 +- 4.8832###0.1637

Post-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###233.24+- 11.5586###253.96 +- 5.9153###0.0695

Table 5. Effects of season of birth on growth traits of calves in Pakistani cattle.

###Least Square Means (+- S.E.)

Trait

###Autumn (N=99)###Spring (N=231)###Summer (N=157)###Winter (N=226)###Overall P-value

Birth Weight (kg)###19.0668 +- 0.2512###18.4552 +- 0.1873###18.4849 +- 0.2126###18.6995 +-0.1913###0.1233

Weaning Weight (kg)###73.7683a +- 1.8954###77.3961ab +-1.4134###70.3426ac +- 1.6042###74.7502abcd +- 1.4436###0.0008*

Yearling Weight (kg)###119.94a +- 3.0291###120.72ab +- 2.2588###110.04c +- 2.5637###120.95abd +- 2.3070###0.0002*

Pre-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###303.90a +- 10.3439###327.45ab +- 7.7137###288.10ac +- 8.7548###311.39abcd +-7.8782###0.0005*

Post-Weaning Growth Rate (g/day)###256.48a +-12.5303###240.71ab +- 9.3442###220.53abc +- 10.6053###256.69abd +-9.5434###0.0108*

Table 6. Effects of year of birth on growth traits of calves in Pakistani cattle.

Trait###Least Square Means (+- S.E.)

###1996###1997###1998###1999###2000###2001###2002###2003###2004###2005###2006###2007###2008###Overall

###(N=41)###(N=72)###(N=52)###(N=46)###(N=49)###(N=50)###(N=53)###(N=50)###(N=68)###(N=74)###(N=59)###(N=40)###(N=59)###P-Value

Birth Weight###19.2126###18.3443###18.5649###18.8073###18.2961###19.0134###17.8103###17.9364###18.9094###18.6308###19.8931###18.6646###18.7125###0.0001*

(kg)###+-0.3775###+-0.3047###+-0.3398###+-0.3394###+-0.3355###+-0.3261###+-0.3225###+-0.3294###+-0.2901###+-0.2786###+-0.3074###+-0.3637###+-0.3145

Weaning###67.3544###61.0231###71.7651###77.4366###91.5400###72.0882###76.6008###76.9563###81.6891###74.0038###66.8982###70.8098###74.6702###<.0001*

Weight (kg)###+-2.8489###+-2.2992###+-2.5645###+-2.5609###+-2.5316###+-2.4610###+-2.4340###+-2.4857###+-2.1889###+-2.1027###+-2.3195###+-2.7447###+-2.3730

Yearling###100.94###97.4846###121.61###120.75###142.40###117.24###122.35###127.03###128.96###108.83###119.32###110.89###115.08###<.0001*

Weight (kg)###+-4.5529###+-3.6745###+-4.0984###+-4.0926###+-4.0458###+-3.9329###+-3.8898###+-3.9724###+-3.4982###+-3.3604###+-3.7068###+-4.3864###+-3.7924

Pre-Weaning###267.45###237.10###295.56###325.72###406.91###294.86###326.61###327.89###348.78###307.63###261.14###289.70###310.88###<.0001*

Growth Rate###+-15.5477###+-12.5479###+-13.9957###+-13.9759###+-13.8159###+-13.4306###+-13.2832###+-13.5654###+-11.9460###+-11.4754###+-12.6583###+-14.9792###+-12.9507

(g/day)

Post-Weaning###186.58###202.56+-1###276.91###240.63###282.56###250.82###254.17###278.19###262.59###193.47###291.24###222.64###224.49###<.0001*

Growth Rate###+-18.8340###5.2002###+-16.9540###+-16.9301###+-16.7362###+-16.2695###+-16.0909###+-16.4328###+-14.4711###+-13.9010###+-15.3340###+-18.1453###+-15.6881

(g/day)

Conclusions: The present study provides first reports on the growth potential of various indigenous cattle breeds under arid conditions. We have demonstrated that breed, season, sex and parity of dam influenced beef production traits. The documented factors may be considered for genetic evaluation and management decisions to improve beef production under arid conditions. Moreover, indigenous breeds appear to have substantial growth potential to be developed as beef cattle breeds for better utilization of indigenous farm animal genetic resources (FAnGR).

Acknowledgements: Authors acknowledge BLPRI staff for providing access to valuable data. Partial funding for this study by PSF-NSLP funded projects 268, 308 and PAK-USAID is duly acknowledged.

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Publication:Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences
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Date:Oct 31, 2017
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