Factors associated with leg cleanliness of smallholder dairy cows in Kenya

Main Article Content

Peter Kimeli

Keywords

welfare; cleanliness; soiled; zero-grazing; risk factors

Abstract

Dairy cow cleanliness provides information about animal welfare, along with risk of diseases and quality of housing environments. This study determined animal- and farm-level factors associated with upper hind leg cleanliness in smallholder dairy cows. All lactating cows (n=234) on 118 randomly selected zero-grazing fams participated in this cross-sectional study between May to August 2015 in the Naari area of Meru County, Kenya. Cleanliness scores of hind legs were assessed visually on a 1-4 ordinal scale (clean to very soiled). Potential risk factors for poor leg cleanliness were evaluated by inspection of cows and their housing, along with a questionnaire about herd management. Descriptive statistics, and univariable and multivariable logistic regression were used to determine factors associated with soiled legs (cleanliness score>2) in the analyses. Prevalence of soiled legs was 59.0% (137/234). In the final model, factors positively associated with soiled legs included failure of the knee wetness test on the stall floor (OR=11.2; 95%CI: 5.1, 24.7), animal restlessness in the stall (OR=4.9; 95%CI: 1.8, 13.5), and milk production in kg/cow/day (OR=1.09; 95%CI: 1.02, 1.16). Protective factors for soiled legs included having stalls without excessive space (OR=0.25; 95%CI: 0.11, 0.57), and having an intact stall roof (OR=0.34; 95%CI; 0.15, 0.76). Our results suggest that farmers should address both housing design (especially the roof and stall size) and management issues (especially stall cleanliness) to enhance leg cleanliness and animal welfare.

Abstract 83