Nigeria has not yet attained self-sufficiency in food production hunger still haunts many homes due to inability of everyone to afford three square meals a day. Even if three square meals were affordable they might not be balanced in essential nutrients. Most meals lack major nutrients that are not in the right proportion and quality, Ensminger (1977) observed that animals, especially the domesticated ones, provide meat, meat products, milk and dairy products, which provide both essential and non essential amino acids. Animal proteins are not usually/easily available at affordable prices in Nigeria. The purchasing power of most Nigerians is far below the level of buying animals sources of protein as necessities for adequate intake of nutrients quantitatively or qualitatively.
The place of milk and milk products to promote the nutritive level of the citizens is a real desire of the animal scientist, especially the dairy scientists. They have been working in various research institutions and universities to improve upon the dairy production over the traditional level of dairy production by the Fulanis and Shawa Arabs known to be major Nigerian animals rearers including dairy animals. Efforts has been on the use of local dairy breeds such as White Fulani (Bunaji) and Sokoto Dudali (Lboikoloji) under improved management than the traditional management for better performance. Furthermore, efforts has been made to import exotic dairy breeds from their traditional areas of the temperature region to upgrade our local dairy breeds. Holstein Friesian dairy bulls have been in use for this purpose. The offspring from both breeds taking advantage of heterosis are with expectation to perform better than both or either of the parents. The offsprings obtain better adaptability to tropical conditions from the local dairy breeds while the level of production is obtained from the exotic breeds.
The crossbred dairy breeds especially the Holstein-Bunaji crossbred dairy breeds are found in many research stations and dairy farms in Nigeria. To ensure adequate production of the needed products, these animals should be reared in adaptable geographical locations. The harsh tropical climatic conditions of high temperatures, humidity and pressure, poor genetic make-up of local breeds, rampant disease problems and inadequate good quality feed and poor management practices militate against adequate milk production. These result in poor intake/consumption of dairy products with a resultant effect of protein malnutrition. This leads to unhealthy citizens with poor general performance.
In attempt to provide them with a conducive environment, most of the dairy breeds in Nigeria are restricted to selected areas in the country for better production and research. These areas are National Animals Production Research Institute (NAPRI) Shika, Zaria, the West African Milk Company (WAMCO) farm at Agege, Lagos, National Veterinary Research Institute dairy farm Vom, Jos, now managed by Farm Fresh Firm and Obudu Cattle Ranch, in Obudu, Cross Rivers State, equally managed by Farm Fresh Firm. Much efforts is made by these farms to produce milk and milk products far above the traditional herdsmen’s level in attempt to meet the local demand. Though level of production has stepped up in recent years but the production level has not made these products available at affordable prices.
Objectives of the Study
The study was undertaken to determine the effect of some environmental factors, namely calf sex, parity, calf’s birth season and calf’s year of birth, on milk production indices namely lactation length, total milk per day, adjust 305-day milk yield, monthly weight of dams, birth weight and days dry in Friesian-Bunji crossbred cows.