Animal genetic resources for improved productivity under harsh environmental conditions
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Animal genetic resources for improved productivity under harsh environmental conditions

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Presentation by Jan Philipsson, Emelie Zonabend, Erling Strandberg , James Audho, Julie Ojango and Okeyo Mwai at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Global Workshop, Uganda,......

Presentation by Jan Philipsson, Emelie Zonabend, Erling Strandberg , James Audho, Julie Ojango and Okeyo Mwai at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Global Workshop, Uganda, December 2012

Uganda, December 2012

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  • There MUST be a CGIAR logo or a CRP logo. You can copy and paste the logo you need from the final slide of this presentation. Then you can delete that final slide   To replace a photo above, copy and paste this link in your browser:   Find a photo you like and the right size, copy and paste it in the block above.
  • In most developing countries the picture is rather different -the environment variable and so also the production systems, even within a village you can find many different production systems –imagine with a country. -the feed supply and vet services may be lacking –for example where I am having my project working southern Kenya there is basically no feed and no veterinary access... -very little infrastructure is usually available, in Africa for example only South Africa, Botswana and Kenya has a functioning recording system. -People from the west and industrilized countries often tell that their animals are better and they produce so much –they are brought to the developing country and people start to crossbred without having a strict plan for it and the exotic breed is not adopted to the environment -and in the end the whole flock may die when the environment changes slightly. -We have seen so many breeding strategies starting up and they say it will improve the breed through crossbreeding –and so far everything is fine –but than it becomes uncontrolled and they have no long term strategies how to keep it and it all fails It is soo common to see indigenous breeds that are well adopted to its environment, that has a rather low productivity –and instead of keeping that breed and select among it and breed for an increase productivity people just bring in exotic breeds that they have to keep feeding sooo much.... What we need to do is to realize the potential in exotic breeds and increase the productivity of those. -some examples are these ones... Do you think our sheep would survive here? Do you think they have a well developed feed/vet/and infrastructure set up? –no they have to stand this dry environment and eat only this soil...
  • Glossina spp. Found in warm and humid mid altitude areas in riverine vegetation, savannah woodlands and woody forests Ethiopia 10-14 million heads of cattle an equivalent number of small ruminants, horses and camels are exposed to the risk of trypanosomosis.
  • The four breeds investigated are the Abigar, Gurage, Horro and Sheko. The Sheko breed is the only remaining Bos taurus breed in eastern Africa, and is anecdotally believed to be trypanotolerant. According to a recent census count there are only approximately 2400 Sheko animals. The livestock keepers in the area also perform more or less uncontrolled crossbreeding with local Zebu, and the Sheko is therefore classified as endangered.
  • Important that keepers know how to correctly diagnose trypanosomosis Abigar 23 % Gurage 20 % Horro 17 % Sheko 5 %
  • The ability to survive and produce in tsetse infested areas! Humpless Longhorn 6000 B.C. Shorthorn 2500 B.C. Humped Zebu 700 A.D.
  • The Dorper breed was introduced in Kenya to increase weight gain of lambs and to get fast growing animals for a more demanding market for meat, primarily by use of crossbreeding. And it worked when years were food with rain and pasture. The issue was that farmers never got instructions about how to maintain a pure Red Maasai for a continuous crossbreeding program and many farmers continued to “ upgrade ” their local flocks by crossing with Dorper even though it was not really suitable for some of the harsh environments.
  • The introduction of the Dorper breed really led to indiscriminate crossbreeding all across the country. Nowadays it is hard to travel in the field and find pure bred Red Maasai Sheep
  • We started with baseline surveys about the homestead and production system of the farmers by interviewing them. All sheep were ear tagged to get the identities secured. Thereafter we have set up an individual sheep recording system as a pilot scheme where we record weights at different ages and taking linear body measurements, and also health, fertility and survival. All the measurements are recorded continuously ever third month. The data are stored in a database at ILRI and SLU.
  • Now we have just finished the field part where we are trying set the breeding objectives for the sheep. In this part we are using a participatory approach. All individual farmers, selected the best, average and the poorest ewe in each breed group, Red Maasai, Dorper and crosses, in their own flock; and also the best young rams. Then the farmers had to give reasons to clarify why that animal was best, average or poor. A similar approach was used with middlemen and butchers. The butchers also evaluated carcasses in a specific study. With the information from our records and interviews, including farmer ’ s desires and market demands, we will develop inclusive and robust breeding objectives. Thereafter selection criteria and alternative breeding strategies to sustainably improve flock productivity and profitability will be simulated. Analyses of all these data, will give results needed to develop tools to be used for selection of strong, healthy and meaty animals that survive the harsh climate and that are still productive in line with preferences of both farmers and butchers. By the use of simulation studies we will simulate the best alternatives of breeding programs to recommend for farmers including both pure breeding and controlled crossbreeding.


  • 1. Animal Genetic Resources for improved productivity under harsh environmental conditions Jan Philipsson, Emelie Zonabend, Erling Strandberg Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsla Sweden James Audho, Julie Ojango, Okeyo Mwai International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, KenyaSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Global Workshop, Uganda, December 2012
  • 2. Animal Genetic Resources for sustainable use in developing countries 70% of livestock breeds found in developing countries - indigenous breeds in SSA often adapted to harsh conditions Huge ruminant populations but many animals unproductive Lack of long term breeding strategies and neglect of the genetic potential of some indigenous breeds Market forces introduced exotic breeds for short term gains - Indiscriminate ”upgrading” of indigenous breeds Many valuable indigenous breeds become endangered
  • 3. The Challenge in use of Animal Genetic Resources in Developing Countries Meet increasing demands for Must utilize the potential of food of animal origin on an the AnGR and increase the increasingly competitive market productivity per animal! without environmental degradation of land and water Develop relevant Animal Breeding Programs  considering the needs for future genetic diversityThe present study involves twoendangered indigenous breeds TTwith specifically valuable attributes
  • 4. Trypanotolerance of indigenous cattlebreeds in tsetse infested areas of EthiopiaTrypanosomosis (sleeping sickness)– one of the most disastrous animal diseases in the tropics with the tsetse fly as vector Sub-Saharan Africa  60 million heads of cattle exposed to risk  3 million heads lost annually Ethiopia Trypanosomosis covers 15 % of all arable land and hinders human inhabitation  10 - 14 million heads of cattle exposed to risk
  • 5. Some breeds show “trypanotolerance” Capacity of an animal to control the development of the parasites and to limit their pathological effects Four indigenous breeds in SW Ethiopia investigated Collaboration with Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research  Farmer interviews – perceptions about diseases  Field investigations by blood analyses for PCV and parasitaemia  On station comparison of breeds for production, diseases and survivalAbigar Gurage Horro Sheko
  • 6. Trypanosomosis - Infection rateSheko - superior trypanotolerance in all three studiesbut is an endangered breed – needs to be conserved!
  • 7. Breeding for Trypanotolerance Results presented in a PhD thesis and shared at a workshop with all Ethiopian stakeholders The remaining issue is how to conserve the breed and disseminate genes for trypanotolerance to the broader livestock populations in tsetse infested areas of Ethiopia MoA taken results onboard for translation of results into practice including a proposal to IFAD for action research
  • 8. The case of Red Maasai sheep Indigenous breed kept in Kenya and neighbouring countries Indiscriminately crossed with Dorper for better meat production Red Maasai population drastically declining – endangered breed Recurrent severe droughts show higher survival of Red Maasai How to conserve Red Maasai sheep and increase productivity for food security and better livelihood?
  • 9. The Dorper breed Imported from South Africa Composite breed of Dorset and Blackhead Persian breeds Meat type breed Not adopted to harsh climatic conditions – problem to survive droughts Uncontrolled crossbreeding with Red Maasai
  • 10. INDISCRIMINATE CROSSBREEDING Red Maasai x Dorper crosses
  • 11. Materials and methodsPilot sheep recording schemein two Maasai village areas Data on live weights, fertility and health for farmer information and genetic analyses - similar data from two research ranches (Kapiti and Naivasha) Baseline study on production system, markets and social aspects of sheep production - extra focus on gender issuesInterviews for assessment of breeding objectivesDesign of alternative breeding strategiesOutreach workshops for sharing results and forcapacity building
  • 12. Recording growth, health and fertility on Red Maasai, Dorper sheep and their crosses Fertility Ear tagging Defining age Interviews Linear Measurements Weighing
  • 13. Breeding objectivesset by interviewing farmers and middlemen and butchers Farmers Middlemen Farmers Middlemen Butchers Butchers
  • 14. What farmers like in their ewesRelative percentage of responses
  • 15. What farmers want to improve in their ewesRelative percentage of responses
  • 16. Potential breeding strategyRed Maasai Sheep Constitutes the main female flock Purebreeding for improvement of maternal and survival traits partly used for crossbreeding to produce slaughter lambsDorper SheepUse as terminal ram breed for controlled crossbreeding to produce slaughter lambsSelection for growth, health and survival
  • 17. Outcomes and Implications Closer links between the pastoralists, the local stakeholders, ILRI and SLU in research for development efforts leading to: - Increased interest for improvement of indigenous animal genetic resources as a pathway out of poverty - Change in animal selection practices within communities - Enhanced awareness and access to market information and alternative markets by livestock keepers Sharing of collective partner experiences and building on these to ensure better joint outcomes
  • 18. Way forward for the collaboration Build on the results and achievements to jointly secure resources in order to deliver results to scale (i.e. to other regions and countries) and inform future action-research designs and plans in the region Target private partners to support innovative livestock recording systems and community based breeding programs in developing countries Broaden the partnership to include other disciplines from either parties Attract more and facilitate younger SLU scientists´ participation to ensure continuity An example of long-standing fruitful cooperation between SLU and ILRI
  • 19. better lives through livestock ilri.orgThe presentation has a Creative Commons license. You are free to re-use or distribute this work, provided credit is given to ILRI.