Estimates of dam reproductive performance are reported for purebred Africander, Angoni, Barotse and Boran dams, and the reciprocal crossbreds of the latter three breeds, under ranching conditions in Zambia.
Mean performances based on a maximum of 1996 records collected over six parities were: calving rate, 65·6%; weaning rate, 62·8%; calf birth weight, 26·6kg; calf weaning weight, 163·6kg; and dam live weight at weaning, 363 0 kg.
Purebred Africander and Barotse dams had significantly poorer calving rates, 542 and 57·6% respectively, than the purebred dams of the Angoni and Boran breeds, 69·1 and 66·0% respectively. Reciprocal crossbred dams of the latter two breeds had the highest calving rates, 71·2 and 74·4%. Heterosis estimates for calving rate were 0·8% for Angoni/Barotse crosses, 7·8% for Angoni/Boran crosses and 10·3% for Barotse/Boran crosses and, for weaning rate, 3·7, 6·7 and 11·5% respectively. There were no differences between reciprocal crossbred dams for calving and weaning percentages. The mortality rate of calves born to crossbred dams was 40% and that of the calves born to purebred dams of the same breeds 4·7%. Dam status at mating had an important effect on fertility with the calving rate of dams dry at mating, 89·1%, contrasting with a rate of 39·8% for those dams that were lactating at mating and that had calved late in the season.
There were large differences between breeds for calf weights but heterosis estimates were small and nonsignificant. There were no differences between the progeny weights of reciprocal crossbred dams. Sex, date and period of birth, and dam status had significant effects on calf weights.
Africander dams had the heaviest, and Angoni dams the lightest, live weights at weaning, 421·1 and 320·7 kg respectively. Heterosis estimates for dam live weights were small and non-significant, and reciprocal crossbred differences were unimportant. Dams which lost most live weight during the dry season, that had extremely light live weights at the beginning of the breeding season or that gained little weight during the breeding season had significantly poorer fertility than other dams.
Overall estimates of heritability derived by dam/daughter regression were 0·20 for calving percentage, 0·76 for calf birth weight and 0·72 for calf weaning weight.