Livestock Research for Rural Development 28 (10) 2016 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

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Evaluation of the milk yield performance of Jersey cows under tropical climatic conditions in Nigeria

A A Adebayo and S O Oseni

Department of Animal Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, PMB 13, Ile Ife, Nigeria


The objective of this study was to assess performance and environmental factors affecting milk yield of Jersey cows under a humid tropical environment. The research was conducted at Rosedale Dairy Farm located in Shonga, Kwara State in North-Central Nigeria. Secondary data used for this study included 800 milk yield records of 200 cows across three parities and four seasons (early rain, late rain, early dry and late dry) from 2008 to 2012. Variables analyzed included total lactation milk yield (TLMY), days dry (DD) and lactation length (LL).

Data were analyzed using Univariate and General Linear Model procedures of SAS. Results showed that overall means of TLMY, DD and LL were 216034.9 Kg, 87.52.52 days, 3021.96 days, respectively. The TLMY and DD were significantly affected by parity and season of calving (P< 0.05). In contrast, parity and season of calving had no significant effect on LL (P> 0.05). Two-way interactions between season and parity of calving were not significant (P>0.05). Z-statistic showed that TLMY (of 2160Kg) recorded was significantly lower (P< 0.05) than that of Jersey cows in Cameroon, West Africa. Large scale evaluations across multiple ecological zones are required in order to establish the true performance of Jersey cows in hot and humid conditions and in the West African sub-region.

Keywords: days dry, humid tropics, lactation, parity


In Nigeria, there had been significant decline of locally produced milk over the years as evidenced by closing down of several dairy plants, or the conversion of existing plants to recombination processing units, as well as heavy importation of milk powder and ready-to-use dairy products as raw materials for industrial processing (Gisanrin, 2014). This trend clearly shows the absence of a policy and institutional framework for sustainable long-term dairy sector development in Nigeria.

There is a diversity of dairy breeds that are adapted to different ecological zones globally. In hot and humid climate, there is a challenge of reduced performance of some of these breeds, due to a combination of factors, including unfavourable ambient conditions (especially temperature and relative humidity), low level intensification and management practices. Jersey cows are however, known to be hardy and adaptable to a wide range of climatic and geographical conditions (Hilton and Briggs 1980). With all these attributes of this breed, knowledge of its performance in different production systems and agro-ecologies in the humid tropics can be useful for strategic planning and development efforts for the dairy sector in Nigeria. Also, this knowledge would be a practical tool for the development of dairy cattle farming systems, especially in developing nations where demand for milk production is expected to increase by 25% in 2025 (Delgado et al 1999), partly due to population growth, but also because increasing disposable income will be spent on a greater diversity of food products to meet nutritional needs. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate factors affecting the productivity of Jersey cows under the hot and humid tropical climatic conditions of Shonga, North-Central Nigeria.

Materials and methods

Experimental Station

The study was carried out at Rosedale Dairy Farm at Shonga, Edu Local Government, Kwara State in North Central Nigeria. Its geographical coordinates are Latitude 9 1'N and Longitude 5 9'E. Its climate, which is tropical savanna, exhibits a well-marked rainy and dry seasons. The average annual temperature in Shonga is 27.9 C and the average annual rainfall is 1146 mm (Climate-data, 2014).

Management practices

Detailed management practices by the owners of the Dairy Farm included the following. Animals are allowed to graze around their sheds and in the fields. Also, concentrates are given to the cows as supplementation feeds. Feed ingredients in the concentrate included crushed dried whole cassava, palm kernel cake, brewers dried grain, soybean, dried sorghum, sunflower cake and occasionally, molasses are added. Salt blocks were provided and cows were allowed access to drinking water always. After calving, calves are allowed to stay with the dams for four days for access to colostrum and weaned at 3 months of age. After weaning, each calf was bottle-fed with 4 Kg of milk per day, spread across three portions to aid digestion.

Daily management practices included identification and treatment of any sick cow, taking the cows out to the field for grazing, hygiene and sanitation, and provision of feed and water. Daily or routine management practices also included milking of the cows, and feeding of the calves. A semi-intensive system was practiced. Well-ventilated sheds were constructed for the milking cows to reduce the effect of heat stress. The cows are milked twice a day, in the morning (at 6 A.M.) and in the evening (at 4 P.M.), with the aid of milking machines. The milking machines were always washed before and after each milking to prevent incidence of mastitis. Cattle are always taken out for exercise twice a month to walk about six to seven kilometers. Their water trough is washed thrice a month, water stored inside the tank is treated chemically twice a month and their sheds are washed every day. Once a week, their sheds are always fumigated and disinfected and their dung is packed every day.

Datasets for the study

The dataset consisted of 800 cumulative milk production records of 200 cows. The data was analyzed to evaluate milk yield performance of Jersey cows under hot and humid climatic conditions. Variables in the dataset included total lactation milk yield (TLMY), days dry (DD) and lactation length (LL), season of calving, and parity of cows. In order to remove incomplete or inconsistent records, Total milk yield was restricted from 1000 liters upward per lactation. The records of days dry were restricted from 30 days to 210 days. Records of lactation length below 250 and above 365 days were expunged. In all, 1 st to 3rd lactations were evaluated, since the fourth lactation records were largely incomplete. Four seasons of calving were established based on weather and climatic conditions of the area: early rain (April- June), late rain (July- September), early dry (October- December) and finally late dry (January-March).

Data Analysis

Data were summarized using Microsoft Excel and then analyzed using Univariate and GLM procedures of SAS (2003).

The following model was fitted:

Yijk = μ + αi + βj + (αβ)ij + εijk

where Yijk = (TLMY, DD or LL) that is, the kth lactation record of the jth season of calving of the ithparity

μ = population mean,

αI = effect of ith parity (i = 1...3),

βj = effect of jth season of calving ( j= 1…4),

(αβ)ij = interaction between jth season of calving and ith parity and

εijk = residuals associated with each Yijk, assumed to be normally and independently distributed with mean zero and constant variance.

Results and discussion

Descriptive statistics of milk yield traits are presented in Table 1. The means for total lactation milk yield (TLMY) was 2,160 34.9 Kg with minimum and maximum values of 1001 and 4498 Kg respectively. The means for lactation length (LL) was 3021.96 days with minimum and maximum values of 250 to 365 days respectively. Days dry (DD) had an overall mean of 87.5 2.52 days with minimum and maximum values of 30 and 210 days respectively. High coefficients of variation for TLMY, LL and DD indicated high variability in the performance of Jersey cows evaluated for these traits.

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of the variables recorded





















LL (days)










DD (days)










TLMY= Total Lactation Milk Yield, LL= Lactation Length, DD= Days Dry

Total lactation milk yield

The least squares means of total lactation milk yield (TLMY) as affected by parity and season of calving are presented in Table 2. The overall TLMY mean of 216034.9 Kg is higher than the result of Adeneye and Bamiduro (1977) who reported a value of 1257 Kg for Jersey cows in Western Nigeria. Similar finding was reported by Bagherwal and Khan (1991), Juneja et al (1991) and Mutukumira et al (1996) from India and Zimbabwe who all reported TLMY of 2141.3 160 Kg, 2147 670 Kg and 2226 Kg respectively for Jersey cows. The milk yields for first, second and third lactation were 1769 Kg, 2273 Kg and 2458 Kg respectively, indicating a rising trend for TLMY with parity (P<0.05). These values are however, lower when compared to the findings of Nandolo (2015) in Namibia who reported 2250 Kg, 2510 Kg and 2850 Kg for Jersey cows in their first, second and third lactations, respectively. The difference in the performance of Jersey cows from different reports could be due to management as well as the genetic background and degree of adaptability of the Jersey cows in the different agro-ecologies, as well as the level of intensification of the dairy operations under which the cows are raised and managed.

Total Lactation Milk Yield was significantly affected by parity (P< 0.05) (Table 2). First lactation cows had the lowest milk production (1769 126 Kg) while the highest production (2458 126kg) occurred in cows in their third lactation. Similarly, Kemenes et al (1994) and Javed et al (2002) reported that parity had significant effect on TLMY of Jersey cows maintained in Brazil and Pakistan, respectively.

Season of calving significantly affected the TLMY (P<0.05) (Table 2). When the data were grouped according to the season of calving, maximum milk production (253478.5 Kg) occurred during early dry season of calving, while the lowest production (2023 105 Kg) occurred in the early rainy season. Tesfaye and Alemu (1993), Kemenes et al (1994) and Javed et al. (2002) also reported a significant effect of season of calving on TLMY for Jersey cows raised in Ethiopia, Brazil and Pakistan, respectively. However, non-significant effect of season of calving on TLMY had been observed by Morsey et al (1989) in Libya and Bagherwal and Khan (1991) in India. The seasonal differences that exist might be due to feed quality and availability associated with different times of the year.

Figure 1 showed the Tukey’s Box and the Whisker plots which displayed the range, median and the quartiles of TLMY data at different lactations. This plot summarized the performance of the cows in each lactation. The TLMY in the third lactation (parity) was the highest out of the three lactations as a result of the superior performance in TLMY for that lactation. This is in accordance with the report of Lateef (2007) that milk yield increases up to third lactation and it remained fairly constant in the fourth and fifth before it starts to decline thereafter. These observations could guide management on the strategies to maximize milk yield and income as a result of the increasing TLMY with parity.

One Sample Z-test for the Total Lactation Milk Yield was performed to determine whether the mean milk yield of these Jersey cows calculated from the data was statistically different from the mean milk yield of Jersey cows from the West African region (Table 3). This was done since the countries have near similar agro-ecologies and climatic conditions. It can be concluded that TLMY means (2160Kg) derived from the data was significantly lower when compared with the mean Total Lactation Milk Yield (2681 Kg) of Jersey cows in Cameroon as reported by Bayemi et al(2005) (P<0.05). Reasons for this could be due to differences in management as well as the level of intensification of dairy operations. It is noteworthy that reports of the evaluation of Jersey cows for milk yield in the West African sub-region are scanty. While the current comparison may indicate lower performance of Jersey cows in North-Central Nigeria, large scale evaluations across multiple agro-ecologies are needed to draw precise conclusions.

Days dry

The least squares means for days dry (DD) as affected by parity and season of calving are presented in Table 2. The overall mean for DD of Jersey cows was 87.52.52 days, ranging from 30 to 210 days. Such a long range for DD across three parities reflect variations in performance of Jersey cows evaluated. Deshpande et al (1992) reported similar results for DD (86.6 days) in India, Tesfaye and Alemu (1993) and Gogoi et al (1993) reported average dry period for Jersey cows maintained in Ethiopia to be 128 days and in India to be 233.5 days, respectively, which were longer than our findings. Days dry, by definition, represent a non-lactating period prior to an impending parturition to optimize milk production in the subsequent lactation. Prolonged DD contributes to extended calving intervals which affect the operational efficiency and profitability of dairy operations.

The effect of parity was significant on days dry of Jersey cows (P <0.05) (Table 2). Jersey cows at the second parity had the highest dry period and it was significantly different from the cows in the first and third parities. This agrees with the report of Sadhana and Basu (1983) who reported that parity was a significant factor affecting the dry period of Jersey cows in India. However, Murdia and Tripathi (1992) and Sattar et al (2004) reported that parity had no significant influence on days dry in India and Pakistan.

Season of calving has a significant effect on days dry with the cows that calved in early dry season having the lowest days dry (68.6 5.74) (P<0.05) (Table 2). Early dry season calvers were significantly different from the rest – such cows recorded the lowest dry periods. A non-significant effect of season of calving on dry period of Jersey cows have been reported by Katoch et al (1(1991), Deshpande et al (1992) and Murdia and Tripathi (1992).

Lactation length

The least squares means of total lactation milk yield as affected by parity and season of calving are presented in Table 2. The means of the lactation length was 3021.96 days, with a range of 250 to 365 days. This is higher than the report of Adeneye and Bamiduro (1977) who reported a mean of 2484 days in Nigeria. Mutukumira et al (1996) reported a similar lactation length of 280 to 300 days in Zimbabwe. However, Tesfaye and Alemu (1993) and Kemenes et al (1994) reported higher lactation length of 2945.5 days in Ethiopia and 3146.1days in Brazil, respectively. Long lactation length increase calving intervals, thereby leading to reduced cow productivity (Ngongoni et al 2006). Short lactation lengths result in low milk production, while a 305-day lactation length is a commonly accepted standard in most modern dairy farms (Wondifraw et al 2013).

Parity had no significant effect on lactation length of Jersey cows (P> 0.05) (Table 2), implying a conscious management decision to maintain a consistent range for LL across parities. This agrees with the results of Sattar et alm(2004) who reported a non-significant effect of parity on lactation length of Jersey cows in Pakistan. In contrast, Match and Tomar (1983) reported that parity had a significant effect on the lactation length of Jersey cows.

Season of calving had no significant effect on the lactation length (P> 0.05) (Table 2), implying that irrespective of the season of calving, a consistent LL was practiced by the management. This is in agreement with the reports of Deshpande et al (1992) and Rao and Rao (1997) who reported a non-significant effect of season of calving on lactation length in Jersey cows in India. Murdia and Tripathi (1991) and Kemenes et al (1994) reported a significant effect of season of calving on lactation length of Jersey cows in India and Brazil respectively. Lateef (2007) reported that the results of Katoch et al (1991) from India showed that lactation length of Jersey cows was longer in the rainy season.

Table 2. Effect of Parity and Season of Calving on Total Lactation Milk Yield, Days Dry and Lactation Length





DD (days)


LL (days)

Overall Mean








1769± 126c







2273± 123a







2458± 126a


71.7± 10.5b




Season of calving



2024± 105c


90.9± 7.92a





2052± 93.2c


92.9± 6.79a







68.6± 5.74b





2262± 124b


89.7± 8.76a



abc Means bearing different superscripts in a column differ significantly (P<0.05)
TLMY= Total Lactation Milk Yield, LL= Lactation Length, DD= Days Dry Parity = Lactation Number Season of calving: 1= Early Rain, 2= Late Rain, 3= Early Dry, 4= Late Dry

Table 3. One Sample Z-Statistic for the Total Lactation Milk Yield




Standard Deviation

z Statistic

Prob > z



TLMY (2160)



TLMY ^=2681



TLMY (Null) = 2160 (Mean milk yield of Jersey cows from this study)
TLMY (Alternative) > 2160. {TLMY Alternative = 2681(Mean milk yield of Jersey cows from Cameroon as reported by Bayemi et al (2005)}

Figure 1. Box Plot of Total Lactation Milk Yield (TLMY) across three lactations
TMY= Total Lactation Milk Yield; LN = Lactation Number)



This study was done under the DelPHE programme (DAIRYLEARN), funded by the DFID (UK) and managed by the British Council. Worthy of mention are Mr. & Mrs. Reid of Rosedale Farm, for their permission to use their data. The final data analysis and write ups also benefitted from the DairyChain ( project funded by the European Union.


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Received 4 March 2016; Accepted 1 September 2016; Published 1 October 2016

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