Smallholder dairy farming in the Chikwaka communal land, Zimbabwe: Birth, death and demographic trends

N. P. French, J. Tyrer, W. M. Hirst

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A study of mortality, morbidity and productivity of cattle on smallholder dairy farms was conducted in Chikwaka communal land, Zimbabwe. We estimated the frequency and determinants of mortality in DDP cattle and explored demographic trends. Using Cox proportional-hazards modelling (with the farm as a random effect), the animal-level variables associated with mortality were age, sex and breed. Calf mortality was 35% of calves within the first year of life. This was nearly five-times higher than adult mortality (relative risk (RR) 4.73, 95% CI 2.12, 10.6). Females had lower mortality than males (RR = 0.25, 95% CI 0.11, 0.56). After adjusting for the confounding effects of age, Jersey breeding was associated with higher mortality (RR = 2.89, 95% CI 1.16, 7.22) whereas Red Dane breeding was associated with lower mortality (RR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.11, 0.69). Farms with a higher ratio of non-DDP:DDP cattle had higher mortality in their DDP cattle. Leslie-matrix models simulated population growth and showed that (at the current levels of mortality and fertility) the population would double in approximately 10 years. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-112
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2001


  • Cattle-management
  • Cox frailty models
  • Smallholder dairy farming
  • Survival analysis


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