Grazing Behaviour of Jersey and Guernsey Heifers in Sub-Humid Tropical Conditions of Kenya

  • Njoka-Njiru, E.N. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University) ;
  • Guliye, A.Y. (Department of Animal Science, Egerton University)
  • Received : 2000.09.18
  • Accepted : 2000.12.06
  • Published : 2001.04.01


The behaviour of 5 Jersey and 5 Guernsey heifers, grazing on natural vegetation in a sub-humid tropical environment in Kenya, was studied during the dry (January and February) and wet (April and May) seasons in 1999. The heifers grazed for 12 hours daily in both seasons. Observations on feeding, standing, lying and ruminating were done chronometrically, at five-minute intervals, between 0600 and 1800 h. During the dry season, the average feeding, standing, lying and ruminating times per 12 h period for Jerseys was 8.0, 3.13, 0.87, and 1.40 respectively, while those for Guernseys were 8.6, 3.26, 0.4, and 1.35 respectively. In the wet (green) season, the mean feeding, standing, lying and ruminating times for Jerseys were found to be 7.54, 3.07, 1.39, and 1.27 respectively, and for Guernseys were 8.42, 3.10, 0.48, and 0.44 respectively. In both seasons Guernseys spent more time feeding (p<0.05) in comparison with the Jerseys. It was also observed that lying occurred more often in Jerseys than the Guernseys (p<0.05) in both seasons. During the wet season, Jerseys ruminated longer (p<0.05) than the Guernseys. The health status of the animals was determined by examining the respiratory frequency, heart rate, rectal temperature, haemoglobin erythrocytes and leucocytes of the experimental animals. All the clinical and physiological parameters were within the normal physiological range of healthy cattle. It was concluded that there are differences in grazing behaviour between Jerseys and Guernseys in the sub-humid tropical environment of Kenya and Jerseys seem to be more adapted to the tropical climatic conditions.