Successes and failures of small ruminant breeding programmes in the tropics: a review

I.S. Kosgey, R.L. Baker, H.M.J. Udo, J.A.M. van Arendonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the large numbers and importance of adapted indigenous sheep and goats in the tropics, information on sustainable conventional breeding programmes for them is scarce and often unavailable. This paper reviews within-breed selection strategies for indigenous small ruminants in the tropics, highlighting aspects determining their success or failure. The aim is to better understand opportunities for genetic improvement of small ruminants by the resource-poor farmers in traditional smallholder and pastoral farming systems. Dismal performance of programmes involving breed substitution of exotics for indigenous breeds and crossbreeding with temperate breeds have stimulated a recent re-orientation of breeding programmes in tropical countries to utilize indigenous breeds, and most programmes are incipient. The success rate of some breeding programmes involving native breeds is encouraging. Definition of comprehensive breeding objectives incorporating the specific, immediate, and long-term social and economic circumstances of the target group as well as ecological constraints was found lacking in some projects that failed. To achieve success, it is necessary to look at the production system holistically, and involve the producer at every stage in the planning and operation of the breeding programme, integrating traditional behaviour and values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-28
JournalSmall Ruminant Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • animal genetic-resources
  • subhumid tropics
  • djallonke sheep
  • livestock
  • goats
  • management
  • resistance
  • selection
  • gambia
  • ewes

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