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Trop Anim Health Prod. 2013 Jan;45(1):311-6. doi: 10.1007/s11250-012-0220-3. Epub 2012 Aug 25.

A live weight-heart girth relationship for accurate dosing of east African shorthorn zebu cattle.

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Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


The accurate estimation of livestock weights is important for many aspects of livestock management including nutrition, production and appropriate dosing of pharmaceuticals. Subtherapeutic dosing has been shown to accelerate pathogen resistance which can have subsequent widespread impacts. There are a number of published models for the prediction of live weight from morphometric measurements of cattle, but many of these models use measurements difficult to gather and include complicated age, size and gender stratification. In this paper, we use data from the Infectious Diseases of East Africa calf cohort study and additional data collected at local markets in western Kenya to develop a simple model based on heart girth circumference to predict live weight of east African shorthorn zebu (SHZ) cattle. SHZ cattle are widespread throughout eastern and southern Africa and are economically important multipurpose animals. We demonstrate model accuracy by splitting the data into training and validation subsets and comparing fitted and predicted values. The final model is weight(0.262) = 0.95 + 0.022 × girth which has an R (2) value of 0.98 and 95 % prediction intervals that fall within the ± 20 % body weight error band regarded as acceptable when dosing livestock. This model provides a highly reliable and accurate method for predicting weights of SHZ cattle using a single heart girth measurement which can be easily obtained with a tape measure in the field setting.

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