Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128
A retrospective cross-sectional study of mortality was conducted on smallholder dairy farms in 2 separate regions (Iringa and Tanga) of Tanzania during the period of January to April 1999. A total of 1789 cattle from 400 randomly sampled smallholder dairy farms (200 each from Iringa and Tanga regions) were included in the study. These animals contributed a total risk period of 690.4 and 653.95 years for Tanga and Iringa, respectively. The overall mortality rates were estimated to be 8.5 and 14.2 per 100 cattle years risk for Tanga and Iringa regions, respectively; 57.7 % of the reported deaths were of young stock less than 12 months old; 45 % of reported young stock deaths (<12 months old) were due to tickborne diseases, mainly East Coast Fever (ECF) and anaplasmosis. Disease events including ECF were reported to occur in all months of the year. Survival analysis using Cox proportional hazard models indicated that, in both regions, death rate and risk was higher in young stock less than 12 months than in older animals (relative risk RR = 4.92, P <0.001 for Iringa; RR = 5.03 P = 0.005 for Tanga). In the Tanga region reported mortality rates were significantly higher for male animals (RR = 3.66, P = 0.001) and F2 compared with F1 animals (RR = 3.04, P = 0.003). In the Iringa region, reported mortality rates were lower for cattle on farms where the owner had attended a dairy development project training course (RR = 0.47, P = 0.012). Farms located in Iringa urban district and Pangani were associated with higher risk (mortality risk 21 % for Iringa urban and 34 % for Pangani). Our findings suggest that timely health and management interventions on these factors are necessary to alleviate losses from disease and emphasise that understanding variation in mortality risk within a population can enhance early response to potential outbreaks, reducing losses.
Keywords : dairy cattle; mortality; risk factors; smallholder; Tanzania.