Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 513-525

First online:

A Cross-sectional Study of Reproductive Performance of Smallholder Dairy Cows in Coastal Tanzania

  • E. S. SwaiAffiliated withVeterinary Investigation Centre
  • , M. J. BryantAffiliated withDepartment of Agriculture, University of Reading Email author 
  • , E. D. KarimuriboAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture
  • , N. P. FrenchAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry, University of Liverpool
  • , N. H. OgdenAffiliated withGroupe de Recherche en Épidémiologie des Zoonoses et Santé Publique, Département de Pathologie et Microbiologie, Université de Montréal
  • , J. L. FitzpatrickAffiliated withMoredun Research Institute
  • , D. M. KambarageAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture

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A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted on 200 randomly selected smallholder farms from a mixed dairy farming system in Tanga, Tanzania, between January and April 1999. We estimated the frequency and determinants of long calving interval (LCI), retention of fetal membrane (RFM), dystocia, and abortion in smallholder crossbred cattle and explored birth trends. The mean calving interval was 500 days and birth rate was 65 per 100 cow-years. Dystocia was reported to affect 58% of calvings, and 17.2% of animals suffered RFM. Using mixed effect models, the variables associated with LCI, RFM and dystocia were breed, level of exotic blood and condition score. Zebu breeding was associated with LCI (odds ratio (OR) = 2.3, p = 0.041) and Friesian breeding with lower odds for RF (OR = 0.26, p = 0.020). Animals with higher levels of exotic blood had lower odds for evidence of dystocia (OR = 0.45, p =0.021). Evidence of dystocia was significantly associated with poor condition score (P = −1.10, p = 0.001). Our observations suggest that LCIs are common in smallholder dairy farms in this region and a likely source of economic loss. Dystocia, RFM, poor condition score and mineral deficiency were common problems and were possibly linked to LCI.


dairy cows reproduction performance smallholders Tanzania