- Volume 4 Issue 1
Four pairs of draught oxen (two local and two Jersey crossbred) were studied when they ploughed dry land on local farms. Work done, distance traveled and body temperature of each ox were measured continuously over a 5 h working day. A different team worked each day, completing at least six days work each. Individual food intakes and digestibility of feed were measured when the animals were given rice straw and tree fodder, and housed and fed according to local husbandry practices. The Jersey crossbreds, particularly the longer legged type, had a higher rate of work than the local oxen in this study. They did significantly more work and covered a greater distance during the day. The absence of a hump in the crossbred oxen had no effect on the position of the yoke or the way the oxen pulled when ploughing. The longer legged type of Jersey crossbred tended to work more erratically than any of the other teams. A fast rate of work made the oxen more liable to heat stress. When fed according to local practices and given the same amount of feed as local oxen, Jersey crossbreds tended to do less well. During the ploughing months, the local oxen gained weight, while the crossbreds remained at the same or lost some weight. Although there were some disadvantages to keeping Jersey crossbreds for work, their favourable work output suggests that the introduction of the Jersey crossbred in the hills of Nepal is unlikely to be detrimental to the performance of the work oxen population.
Draught Oxen;Work Output;Nutrition;Food Intake;Body Temperature