Cattle | Breeds, Characteristics, Rearing, Feeding, Diseases & Preventions

Introduction to Cattle: Cattle, which are ruminant animals with complex stomach structures, possess hollow horns and hoofs. They are raised for various purposes such as meat, milk, hide and skin, manure, and as draught animals for farm work. Cattle belong to the family Bovidae and genus Bos, with humped cattle classified as Bos indicus and […]

Introduction to Cattle:

Cattle, which are ruminant animals with complex stomach structures, possess hollow horns and hoofs. They are raised for various purposes such as meat, milk, hide and skin, manure, and as draught animals for farm work. Cattle belong to the family Bovidae and genus Bos, with humped cattle classified as Bos indicus and humpless as Bos taurus.

 

Breeds of Cattle:

Cattle breeds fall into three categories:

  1. Beef cattle: Producing high-quality meat, examples include Sokoto Gudali, Red Bororo, Kuri, N’dama, Muturu, and Keteku.
  2. Dairy cattle: Primarily reared for milk production, including White Fulani, Jersey, Ayshere, etc.
  3. Dual-purpose cattle: Capable of producing both meat and milk, such as Muturu and Wadara (Shuwa).

 

Terms Used in Cattle Management:

  1. Bull: Adult male cattle
  2. Cow: Adult female cattle
  3. Calf: Young or baby cattle
  4. Heifer: Growing female cattle up to her first calving
  5. Serving: Mating in cattle
  6. Calving: Parturition in cattle
  7. Herd: Group of cattle
  8. Beef: Meat from cattle

 

Characteristics of Cattle:

  1. Large-bodied animals with horns (some polled)
  2. Humped or humpless
  3. Calve at least once a year
  4. Gestation period of 275-283 days
  5. Female produces a calf in one parturition

 

Systems of Rearing Cattle:

  1. Extensive System: Herdsmen move cattle in search of food and water, with no organized housing. Exposed to natural hazards and diseases.
  2. Semi-Intensive System: Housing provided, and cattle allowed to move within a fenced compound. Moderate capital investment, with slightly higher disease risk.
  3. Intensive System: Cattle confined within a building, with controlled access to grazing. Low risk of disease and parasite infestation.

 

Feeding of Cattle:

  1. Cattle require a balanced diet.
  2. Grazers that feed on roughages (grasses and legumes).
  3. Common grasses include elephant grass, guinea grass, and giant star grass.
  4. Concentrate feed supplements their diet.
  5. Dairy cattle receive more concentrate than beef cattle.

 

Management of Cattle:

Management encompasses three stages: breeding to calving, birth of calf to weaning, and weaning to finishing.

This statement outlines the different stages involved in the management of cattle, which typically include:

1. Breeding to Calving: This stage involves activities related to mating or breeding the cattle, ensuring successful conception, and then managing the pregnancy until the cow gives birth (calving). During this stage, attention is given to the health and nutrition of the pregnant cows to support the growth and development of the fetus.

2. Birth of Calf to Weaning: After the calf is born, this stage focuses on caring for the newborn calf until it is old enough to be weaned from its mother’s milk. This includes providing proper nutrition, monitoring the health of the calf, and ensuring that it receives necessary vaccinations and treatments to prevent diseases.

3. Weaning to Finishing: Once the calf is weaned from its mother, it enters this stage, where it undergoes further growth and development until it reaches market weight or finishing weight. This involves providing appropriate feed and managing the living conditions of the cattle to promote healthy weight gain and efficient conversion of feed into muscle.

Each stage requires specific management practices tailored to the needs of the cattle at that particular phase of their life cycle. Effective management throughout these stages is crucial for ensuring the health, welfare, and productivity of the cattle, as well as for optimizing the economic outcomes for the farmers or ranchers involved.

 

Common Parasites and Diseases of Cattle:

Cattle can be affected by various parasites and diseases, which can impact their health and productivity. Some common parasites and diseases of cattle include:

1. Internal Parasites:
(a) Gastrointestinal Worms: Including species like Ostertagia, Haemonchus, Trichostrongylus, and Cooperia.
(b) Lungworms: Such as Dictyocaulus viviparus.
(c) Liver Flukes: Such as Fasciola hepatica.

2. External Parasites:
(a) Ticks: Various species like Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus and Amblyomma spp.
(b) Mites: Including Chorioptes bovis and Sarcoptes scabiei.
(c) Lice: Such as Haematopinus eurysternus and Linognathus vituli.
(d) Flies: Including horn flies (Haematobia irritans) and stable flies (Stomoxys calcitrans).

3. Vector-Borne Diseases:
(a) Anaplasmosis: Caused by Anaplasma marginale, transmitted by ticks.
(b) Babesiosis: Caused by Babesia spp., transmitted by ticks.
(c) Trypanosomiasis: Caused by Trypanosoma spp., transmitted by tsetse flies.

4. Bacterial Diseases:
(a) Brucellosis: Caused by Brucella abortus, leading to abortion in cattle.
(b) Anthrax: Caused by Bacillus anthracis, often seen as sudden death in cattle.
(c) Clostridial Diseases: Including blackleg (Clostridium chauvoei) and tetanus (Clostridium tetani).

5. Viral Diseases:
(a) Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD): Caused by BVD virus.
(b) Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR): Caused by bovine herpesvirus 1.
(c) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD): Caused by FMD virus, causing fever and blisters on the feet and mouth.

6. Protozoal Diseases:
(a) Coccidiosis: Caused by various species of Eimeria.
(b) Neosporosis: Caused by Neospora caninum, leading to reproductive issues.

7. Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders:
(a) Grass Tetany: Caused by magnesium deficiency.
(b) Bloat: Caused by excess gas accumulation in the rumen.
(c) Ketosis: Often seen in high-producing dairy cows, caused by negative energy balance.

Regular monitoring, vaccination, proper nutrition, and parasite control are essential components of preventing and managing these diseases and parasites in cattle. Veterinary consultation and diagnostic testing are crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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