Optimal village breeding scheme under smallholder sheep farming systems

S. Gizaw, A. Lemma, J. Komen, J.A.M. van Arendonk

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Despite challenges in the implementation of livestock genetic improvement programs in developing regions, including centralized nucleus breeding schemes, these programs can contribute to the improvement of the livelihood of smallholder farmers. In this paper, we present a community- or village-based breeding scheme in which breeding activities are carried out by communities of smallholder farmers. We evaluated genetic responses and the rate of inbreeding from alternative village sheep breeding schemes that were based on a survey of existing flock structure and breeding management in a sheep-barley system in Ethiopia. This survey showed that individual flock sizes were small, and that the majority of farmers practiced mixed grazing and uncontrolled mating of their flocks in communal grazing lands within villages. Here we evaluated within-village schemes (selection across flocks within a village) and across-village schemes (selection across villages) at different intensities of ram selection (i.e. proportions of rams selected, P). Our results showed that under within-village schemes, intensity of selection could not be increased (i.e. P could not be decreased below 0.149) when the rate of inbreeding was constrained to an acceptable level of 0.01, resulting in low genetic gain. The most optimal scheme was found to be across-village selection with at least three villages cooperating and P = 0.05. Our results also indicated that genetic gain from village breeding schemes with mass selection and BLUP selection is comparable. Village breeding schemes can make a significant contribution to the genetic improvement of livestock in Ethiopia and other developing countries
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-88
JournalLivestock Science
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • populations
  • reduction
  • programs
  • cattle

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