Assessment of the Reasons for Culling and its Relation to Age at Culling in Dairy Cows in and around Mekelle City, Tigray, Ethiopia

*Corresponding author: Gutema D. Idesa* and Sultan Aman

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retrospective study

Abstract

Background
Culling is defined as the departure of cows from the herd because of sale, slaughter, salvage, or death. Culling is an important cost for dairy farms. At the same time, culling is a way to increase herd productivity and profitability, as keeping diseased and unproductive cows might result in lower herd milk production and deteriorated reproduction. In order to maximize profitability, the proportion of voluntary culling (selling for dairy purposes or culling due to low production) should be highest among the total culling rate. Previous studies indicate an ascending trend in the proportion of involuntary culling. This observational study used registry data of all cows from herds with ≥5 cow-years in 2016-2017.
Objective
This study was conducted to assess the reason for culling a dairy cow and its association with age at culling in and around Mekelle using a structured questioner format and direct observation. Visits were performed to each farm to collect data directly from owners or animal attendants and using direct observation.
Materials and Methods
The cross-sectional study was conducted in and around Mekelle city dairy farm from November, 2016 to April, 2017.
Results
The most common causes of culling were disease and economic reasons. The most common causes of voluntary culling were economic reasons (17.39), low milk yield (20.29%), and aging (8.70%). The common causes of involuntary culling were diseases (34.78%), injury (7.25%), and infertility (5.80%). In this study rates of culling increased with parity. The highest rate of culling was
in animals between parity 2 and 5, increased from (14.49%) to (21.74%) and slightly decreased from parity 6 to 7, i.e. (13.04)% to (8.70)%, respectively. The highest rates of culling were between 3 and 5-years, (17.39)% and (23.19)%, respectively.
Conclusion
This study indicated animals were culled at premature age because of involuntary culling, which is economically not feasible, diseases were the most common causes of involuntary culling and voluntary culling was the most type of culling in dairy cattle farms and animals mostly culled for decreased production and economic reasons.
Keywords
Culling; Dairy cattle; Milk yield; Parity.