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The Dhofari cattle breed; productive and reproductive performance

Salim Bahashwan

Salalah Livestock Research Station, P O Box 1286, Postal code 211, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman


The objective of this study was to evaluate the reproductive and productive traits of age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), service per conception (SC), gestation length (GL), milk yield (MY), lactation length (LL), and postpartum oestrus interval (POI) of Dhofari cows. Data on 1827 breeding records of 261 native Dhofari cows breed were collected and analyzed at the Salalah Livestock Research Station from 2011 to 2017. General linear model (GLM) analysis showed that season had a significant (p<0.05) effect on all studied traits except for calving interval (CI). Year of production had also significant (p<0.05) effect on all studied traits except for (POI). Parity did not have significant (p>0.05) effect on any of the studied traits. Correlation analysis showed a significant (p<0.05) correlation between age of the cow and (GL). It showed also a significant (p<0.05) negative correlation between parity and (CI). The productive and reproductive traits of the native Dhofari cattle breed showed good traits compared to other native breeds in the Middle East documented in literature. However, attention to factors such as season of breeding and genetic improvement programs towards reducing (AFC) should be enhanced and supported to further elevate these economically vital traits in general.

Keywords: age at first calving, calving interval, postpartum oestrus interval, service per conception


Dhofari cattle breed which is a native subtropical Bos indicus (Bahashwan et al 2015) breed located at the south region of Sultanate of Oman comprises about 193 thousand heads (MAF 2013) of the total number found in the country. Most farmers in that region depend mainly on that breed for the production and consumption of red meat and dairy products as it is a dual-purpose type breed. A herd reproductive performance is a key indicator of sustainability for any dairy farming (Wangdi et al 2014) and it has a significant effect on the profitability of that herd (Dayyani et al 2013). Assessment of productive and reproductive performance of a cattle depends on few parameters such as age at first calving, calving interval, service per conception, postpartum oestrus interval, and milk yield (Dematawawa and Beger 1998; Islam et al 2006). Such comprehensive information and data have never been published for the native Dhofari cattle breed. As a result, this study pursued to understand and establish baseline information regarding vital economical productive and reproductive traits of this indigenous cattle breed in Arabia.

Materials and methods

Total data of 1827 breeding records of 261 native Dhofari cows breed were collected between 2011 and 2017 at Salalah Livestock Research Station in the south region of Sultanate of Oman. Cows were artificially inseminated (AI) usually at the beginning of November of each year using the two-injection system of prostaglandin( Robert Taylor 1992) and parturition were received during August. Cows that do not conceive from AI usually were mated to bulls. All records of cows and timings of insemination and relative reproductive data were recorded for each animal. Cows were hand milked twice per day and milk quantity was recorded using weighing scale and recorded plus the consumed quantity by its relative calf. Animal were fed commercial concentrate (16 % crude protein, 2.5% crude fat, 7% crude fiber, 5% ash, 0.9 calcium, 0.5% phosphorus, and 11.5 MJ/Kg ME energy) according to their weight, and milk production based on NRC nutrient requirement tables. Rhodes grass hay ((Chloris gayana), water, and mineral blocks were provided ad libitum. Cows were generally in good health condition and vaccinated against endemic diseases.

Statistical Analysis

Descriptive statistics for data on productive and reproductive traits studied were obtained. Effects of season, year and parity on the productive and reproductive traits studied were found by multivariate procedure of general linear model (GLM) of SPSS program. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated using SPSS procedure.

The mathmematical model was

Yij = μ + Fi + eij


Yij = a particular trait mesure.

μ = mean of population.

Fi =effect of all fixed effects.

eij =random error linked to each observation.

Results and Discussion

Dhofari cows average age at first calving, shown in Table 1, was shorter than means reported for Kankarej and Sahiwal cows (Chaudhary et al 1995; Nandagawali et al 1996), Gir cows (Singh and Raut 1980; Barwe et al 1996), and Red Sindhi cows (Ahmed 1998). However, Dhofari cow's average age at first calving was close to that reported for Cholistani cows (Chaudhary and Shafiq 1994). Differences between these Bos indicus breeds could be attributed to variations of genetic makeup, management, climate, insemination timing and heat detection (Kuthu et al 2007). The Dhofari cows breed stand out to be better than most of the other indicated Bos indicus breeds in terms of shorter age at first calving. Therefore, perhaps with better management, feeding regime, efficient heat detection, and disease control, further time reduction of age at first calving could be achieved. Calving interval (Table 1) of indigenous Dhofari cows breed showed a favorable shorter interval by almost 10% (14.40.33 months) than reported (15.70.22 months) in literature (Mohiuddin 1987; Azam 1991; Khan et al 1999; Javed et al 2000; Kuthu et al 2007) of different breeds of tropical cattle which could be a result of better nutritional status and management. Table 1 shows that the service per conception for the Dhofari cows breed was almost the same as reported by many researchers in literature (Miazi et al 2007; Rahman et al 1998), but about 19% favorably much better than found by others (Asaduzzaman and Miah 2004) in Sahiwal breed. The gestation length and milk yield per day showed in Table 1 for the Dhofari breed were similar to those results found by others (Miazi et al 2007; Rahman et al 1998; Islam 1999) for different indigenous breeds. The average of Dhofari cow's lactation length was found to be only about 30 days shorter than those reported by other researchers (Miazi et al 2007; Asaduzzaman and Miah 2004; Islam 1999) for local indigenous cows. Results showed that the postpartum oestrus interval of the Dhofari indigenous cow breed (Table 1) was 18% less than found by others (Islam et al 2002) in indigenous cows of Bangladesh. This could be attributed to better supply of balanced nutritional requirements especially crude protein (Garth R et al 1988) for the Dhofari cows.

Table 1. Dhofari cows breed productive and reproductive traits





Age at First Calving(month)




Calving Interval(month)




Service per Conception(number)




Gestation Length(day)




Milk Yield(Kg/day)




Lactation Length(day)




Postpartum Interval(day)




Season had a significant (p<0.05) effect on age at first calving, gestation length, and postpartum oestrus interval but no significant (p>0.05) effect on calving interval (Table 2). Heifers that calved during the spring season had their age at first calving younger (34.0 0.24 month) than the other age groups of cows. This effect was also found by Nandagawali et al (1996) in Sahiwal cow breed.

Table 2. Means and standard errors of Age at first calving (AFC), Calving interval (CI), Gestation length (GL) and Postpartum oestrus interval (POI) of Dhofari cows breed in different seasons


AFC, months

CI, months

GL, days

POI, days


34.3 0.12A

16.0 0.41C

368 1.20D

91.0 0.24F


60.0 0.22B

15.0 0.44C

382 2.10D

93.0 0.31G


38.0 0.10A

15.8 0.31C

300 1.52E

90.8 0.15F


34.0 0.24A

13.3 0.42C

315 0.22E

91.1 0.18F

Mean values within columns followed by different subscripts are significantly different (p<0.05)

There was no significant (p>0.05) effect of season on calving interval (CI) (Table 2) as was also reported by others (Chaudhary and Shafiq 1994; Sethi et al 1997). The gestation length was also significantly (p<0.05) affected by season. Cows that calved during the autumn and spring seasons had the lowest gestation length compared to the other seasons. Calving during the autumn season was (p<0.05) affected the postpartum oestrus interval (90.8 0.15 days) being shorter, compared to the other seasons (Table 2). However, Kuthu et al (2007) found longer (194+65.7 days) postpartum oestrus interval during autumn season. This could be attributed to the nice, cold, and rainy monsoon, climate of Dhofar region during the period from June to September, which in fact a unique climatic yearly phenomenon in this part of Arabia compared to the rest of the Arabian Gulf.

Age at first calving was significantly (p<0.05) affected by year (Table 3). Cows born during year 2014 had the lowest AFC while those born in 2012 had the highest AFC. This effect of year on AFC was also reported by Khan et al (1999) and; Javed et al (2000) in Sahiwal cows.

Table 3. Effect of year on reproductive traits of age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), gestation length (GL) and postpartum oestrus interval (POI) of the Dhofari cows breed


AFC, months

CI, months

GL, days

POI, days


36.0 0.10A

19.2 1.29C

277 0.36G

92.4 0.15J


46.3 0.20B

17.8 0.93C

326 0.45H



38.4 0.15B

14.9 0.80D

305 0.36H

92.0 0.09J


31.5 0.25A

13.2 0.58E

353 0.71I

91.1 0.21J


34.0 0.16A

16.1 0.68D

331 0.41H

91.2 0.16J


33.6 0.22A

15.9 0.85D

391 0.52I

92.2 0.12J


34.8 0.23A

10.0 0.67F

302 0.45H


Mean values within columns followed by different subscripts are significantly different (p<0.05)

Calving interval of cows and gestation length were also significantly (p>0.05) affected by year of production (Table 3). During year 2017 cows had the lowest CI but highest during 2016. This variation of CI during different years of calving was also reported by other authors (Talbott et al1997; Javed et al 2000). The difference in CI between years could be attributed to herd management and heat detection strategies (M Tadesse et al 2010). The variation and significant effect of year on GL was also reported by others (Sara M Azzam and MK Nielsen 1987). The POI was not significantly (p>0.05) affected by year of production as shown in Table 3. This was also in accordance with the findings of Chaudhary and Shafique, (1994) in Cholistani cows. Correlation analysis of the relationship between age and parity of the dam with the reproductive traits of CI, GL, and POI was investigated (Table 4).

Table 4. Correlation of age and parity of dam with calving interval (CI), gestation length (GL) and postpartum oestrus interval (POI)





Age of dam








* correlation is significant at level 0.05

There was almost 12% significant (p>0.05) positive correlation between dams age and gestation length (Table 4). This relationship was also reported by others (Suleyman Cilek and Mehmet Tekin 2005) in Simmental cows breed. It sound like that older Dhofari cows would have much longer gestation lengths than young and average age ones. This might be due to physiological changes in their hormonal and sexual behavior. There was also a 15% negative significant (p<0.05) correlation between parity and calving interval (Table 4). The results showed that the less parity the cow had the more calving interval they would probably have. This was also established by others (Jansen et al 1987).



This research was supported by Salalah Livestock Research Station. Author would like to thank Dr. Ahmed Alshanfari and Dr. Hamood Alhasany, and Dr. Ahmed Albakrey.


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Received 20 October 2019; Accepted 8 January 2020; Published 1 February 2020

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