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Volume Five Winter 2007-Spring 2008 Numbers 1-2.
HERD STRUCTURE, OFFTAKE AND MORTALITY OF CATTLE IN A CROP-LIVESTOCK FARMING SYSTEM
OF WEDZA COMMUNAL AREA, ZIMBABWE
Department of Livestock and Wildlife Management
Midlands State University
Published Online: February 10, 2017
Three hundred and forty-two head of cattle were monitored for two years in Chigodora and Goneso Wards of Wedza communal area in Zimbabwe. Data on the herd structure, entries and/or exits were recorded using a structured questionnaire administered once per month to each of the participating households. Data on farm gate prices of animals sold or purchased was also collected. On average, each household kept a herd of eight cattle (range: 1-20). The average herd composition was 28 percent breeding females, 14 percent rearing females, 11 percent rearing males, 25 percent adult castrated males, 18 percent calves and 4 percent breeding males. A mortality rate of 11 percent was recorded for the suckling stock, while the rearing and mature stock had an average mortality rate of 3 percent. Forty-two percent of the cattle died due to unknown causes. Infectious diseases accounted for 17 percent of the deaths, accidents 17 percent, diarrhea 10 percent, starvation 10 percent, and predators 4 percent. Offtake was lowest for female animals at 6 percent and was highest for the adult castrated males at 16 percent. Sixty-three percent of the males and 55 percent of the females leaving the herd as offtake were sold. Slaughters were restricted to funerals/religious occasions and constituted 40 percent. Calving occurred throughout the year with an annual calving rate of 36 percent.