Calf Rearing Systems in Smallholder Dairy Farming Areas of Zimbabwe : A Diadnostic Study of the Nharira-Lancashire Area

  • Mandibaya, W. (Department of Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe) ;
  • Mutisi, C. (Department of Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe) ;
  • Hamudikuwanda, H. (Department of Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe)
  • Received : 1997.11.06
  • Accepted : 1998.07.27
  • Published : 1999.01.01


A formal survey was carried out in Nharira-Lancashire areas located in Chivhu to assess the calf rearing systems practiced in smallholder dairy farming areas of Zimbabwe. A total of 47 farmers, collectively owning 305 cows and 194 calves of various breeds, participated in the survey. All the farmers allowed their calves to suckle their dams all day to obtain colostrum. The colostrums intake period was significantly (p < 0.05) shorter (5.2 vs 4.1 days) in the small scale commercial area (SSCA) compared to communal area (CA). Milk was first sold to the Nharira-Lancashire Milk Centre a day after the colostrum intake period ended. Most of the CA (91.3%) and SSCA (77.8%) farmers penned their cows and calves together at night during the colostrum intake period. Thereafter the calves were penned separate from their dams. After colostrum intake, two types of calf suckling systems were practised; twice a day suckling and twice a day then changed to once a day suckling. In both systems, suckling was allowed for 30 minutes after the cows had been hand milked. There was no significant (p < 0.05) difference in the mean weaning age of calves between the CA and SSCA (5.8 vs 5.4 months). The most common weaning method was through separation of the calves from the dams. The limitaitions to calf production in Chivhu were the prohibitively high costs of calf meals, poor feed resources during the dry season, a general lack of knowledge on calf rearing diseases and inappropriate calf housing.


Smallholder Dairying;Calf Rearing Systems;Restricted Suckling