This study estimated the changes in economics and farmer perceptions towards calf welfare as a result of implementing low-cost calf housing enhancements and changes in calf management on Kenyan smallholder dairy farms. The trial involved 187 heifer calves from 150 farms allocated to either an intervention or control group. The interventions were improvements on the floor and roof of the calf housing, and training for the farmers on calf care. Animal- and farm-level characteristics were collected every two months over a 16-month period. Data gathered from questionnaires on the first and sixth visits were used to determine changes in calf management and farmer perceptions on calf welfare pre- and post-intervention. Partial budgeting was used to assess the additional costs and benefits associated with the intervention for heifer calves from birth to 15 months old. The net financial return of undertaking the housing and management improvements was positive at Ksh 6,594 (USD 65.94) per heifer, based on having a larger heifer at 15 months, reduced bedding and medical care costs, and lower risk of death. It is thus concluded that calf housing improvements and on-farm training on calf care are cost-effective and improve management and calf welfare perceptions of farmers.
Key words: Heifer, partial budget analysis, zero-grazing.
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