Mortality of calves born from alentejana and mertolenga cows in Portalegre district

  • Rute Santos Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal
  • Luísa Pereira Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal
  • Miguel Minas Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal
  • Lina Costa Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal
  • Maria da Graça Carvalho Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal
  • Maria do Carmo Caetano General Directorate for Food and Veterinary, Regional Directorate for the Alentejo Region, Évora, Portugal
  • José Neves General Directorate for Food and Veterinary, Lisbon, Portugal
Keywords: Calves, Mortality, Portalegre, Alentejana, Mertolenga


Introduction: Apart from its economic impact, calf mortality is an important welfare indicator in beef calf farms.

Objectives: Evaluate mortality rates in calves born from two indigenous cattle breeds dams in the Portalegre district.

Methods: Records of births and deaths between birth and 180 days of calves born from Alentejana and Mertolenga dams in Portalegre district, from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2018, were obtained from the national database. Mortality rates were calculated and the association between mortality period and age of the dam was evaluated.

Results: Calves born from Alentejana and Mertolenga cows represented 11.6% and 2.9% of cattle births in the Portalegre district during this period, with a decrease in the number of births during the three considered years, more noticeable in the Alentejana breed. The average mortality rate was 3.2% for calves born from Alentejana dams and 2.3% for calves born from Mertolenga dams. The average age of dams was 8.68 and 7.37 years, for Alentejana and Mertolenga dams respectively. Perinatal death (from birth to 48 h) occurred in calves born from older cows (p=0.024).

Conclusions: Mortality rates of calves born from the two studied indigenous breeds are low to moderate when compared to rates reported in other breeds.

Author Biography

Rute Santos, Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Agrarian School of Elvas, Elvas, Portugal

Departamento de Ciência e Tecnologia Animal


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Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences