A Note on Risk Factors for Calf Mortality in Large-Scale Dairy Farms in the Tropics : A Case Study on Rift Valley Area of Kenya

  • Bebe, B.O. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Abdulrazak, S.A. (Laboratory of Animal Science, Shimane University) ;
  • Ogore, P.O. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Ondiek, J.O. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Fujihara, T. (Laboratory of Animal Science, Shimane University)
  • Received : 2000.09.18
  • Accepted : 2000.12.26
  • Published : 2001.06.01


The aim of this study was to assess the associations of some potential risk factors and occurrence of calf mortality in large-scale dairy farms. Njoro area of the Rift valley, Kenya was selected due to its potential of large-scale dairy farms, since the time of the Europeans settlers. The study was retrospective and focused on the calves dying from January 1996 through October 1998. Sample of studied population consisted of 105 calves extracted from the farm records. Data was collected using a questionnaire and were grouped into farm-level and animal-level factors. Calf mortality was 15.6% and important risk factors for calf mortality were sex of calf, season of birth, pneumonia disease, age of dam when calf was born and house type for calves. Female calve born during colder wet seasons and born to dams of 2-4.5 years of age were equally at higher risk. Calves raised in movable pens compared to those raised in permanent pens were at higher risk of mortality from pneumonia. Animal level factors were major causes of calf mortality in commercial farms used in this study and therefore details study is needed in these factors in controlling the calf mortality rates.