Review on Population Status and Conservation Activity of Indigenous Cattle Breeds of Ethiopia

Esubalew Shitaneh Abu


Ethiopia has the home to at least 27 cattle breeds and an estimated 59.5 million head of cattle due to its diversified agroecology and topography and directly serves as for millions of people. Indigenous cattle breed has many important traits compared with exotic cattle breeds. Bos indicus breeds can effectively regulate their body temperature against thermal stress and are better adapted to hot weather than Bos taurus breeds. In addition, several breeds of Zebu and Zenga are able to withstand very harsh environmental conditions, and those characteristics have arisen through evolutionary adaptation. For examples, Begait cattle (Large East African Zebu) found in North-Western Ethiopia are well adapted to very dry climates and they can survive if they are able to drink only once every two days. However, despite the potential of the indigenous livestock currently, the genetic resources are becoming seriously endangered due to high genetic erosion resulting from biotic and abiotic factors. The objective of this review was to highlight threats, conservation methods and improvement activities currently done for indigenous cattle genetic resources in Ethiopia. Based on the review, among the world 1458 breeds all domestic mammalian and avian species, 17% are classified as being at risk and 58% are classified as unknown risk status. The major threats of livestock genetic resources are genetic dilution through the use of exotic germ plasma, feed shortage, illegal trafficking, inbreeding and interbreeding, and trypanosomiasis disease. This situation demands immediate action to save deteriorating genetic resources in the country. Some of endangered indigenous cattle breeds were conserved in ex-situ method at different state ranches, the Borana cattle breed as Did Tuyura Ranch, Horro cattle breed at Horro Ranch, Fogera cattle breed at Metekel Ranch and Andassa Agricultural Research Centre, and Menz sheep breed at Amed Guya Research Centre but, the results were not enough. Therefore, phenotypic and genotypic categorization of breeds will be further characterized, monitor the current population statistics, conservation of breeds under natural niche, and improvement programs will be implemented for all breeds and also improve the productivity of grazing land.

Keywords: conservation, indigenous, cattle, breed, threat, Ethiopia

DOI: 10.7176/JBAH/11-16-01

Publication date:August 31st 2021

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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