Do haematological profiles of cows in drought prone areas differ with conformation?

  • Takunda Dzavo Bindura University of Science Education, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Science, Dept. Animal Science, Private Bag 1020, Bindura
  • Titus J. Zindove Fiji National University, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Dept. Animal Science, P.O Box 7222, Nasinu
  • Marshall Dhliwayo Bindura University of Science Education, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Science, Dept. Animal Science, Private Bag 1020, Bindura
  • Michael Chimonyo University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Science, Animal and Poultry Science, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg
  • Musavenga T. Tivapasi University of Zimbabwe, Dept. Veterinary Science, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare
Keywords: body conformation, haemoconcentration, season, coat colour


Aim of study: Severe and frequent droughts have resulted in loss of thousands of rangeland cattle worldwide. The objectives of the current study were to assess the reduction in dimensionality of seven conformation traits and to determine the relationships between extracted constructs and haematological parameters associated with drought resilience in beef cows.

Area of study: Muzarabani district, Zimbabwe.

Material and methods: Fifty multiparous Mashona cows kept on natural rangelands were used. The collinearity of seven conformation traits of the cows was reduced using principal component analysis. The relationships between the principal components and hematological profiles of the cows were subsequently determined using regression analysis.

Main results: First extracted principal component described body capacity (body depth, flank circumference, chest girth). The second component described the frame size (stature and body length) of the cows and the third component was comprised of sheath height and dewlap size. Cows characterised by deep bodies, large flanks and chest girths had low percent haematocrit (HCT), mean capsular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) and red cell distribution (RDW) (p<0.05). Small-framed cows were associated with low mean platelet volume (MPV), HCT, MCHC and RDW levels in blood (p<0.05). As principal component 3 of conformation traits increased, white blood cell count, mean corpuscular volume, RDW and MPV decreased (p<0.05).

Research highlights: Small-framed cows with large thoracic capacities, large dewlaps and belly bottoms far away from the ground surface are able to maintain haematological normalcy under rangelands in drought prone areas.


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How to Cite
Dzavo, T., Zindove, T. J., Dhliwayo, M., Chimonyo, M., & Tivapasi, M. T. (2020). Do haematological profiles of cows in drought prone areas differ with conformation?. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 18(2), e0604.
Animal production