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Identification Systems And Selection Criteria For Small Ruminants Among Pastoralist Communities In Northern Kenya: Prospects For A Breeding Programme

S. Mbuku, I. Kosgey, A. Kahi
Published 2010 · Medicine, Biology

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Data on animal identification systems and selection criteria for sheep and goats were collected from the Rendille and Gabra communities in northern Kenya. These were then analysed through computation of indices, which represented a weighted average of all rankings of a particular trait or identification system. The three most important records kept were castration (index = 0.224), dates of birth (0.188) and entries into the flock (0.185). Identification was done through ear notching (0.409), branding (0.248), and coat colour of the animals (0.150). Characteristics with index ≥0.200 were considered more important and included big body size (Rendille, 0.260; Gabra, 0.251) and milk yield (Rendille, 0.206) for the buck’s dam. Big body size (Rendille, 0.264; Gabra, 0.245) and offspring quality (Rendille, 0.252; Gabra, 0.265) were considered important attributes for the buck’s sire. Important qualities for the ram’s dam were big body size (Rendille, 0.246; Gabra, 0.216), offspring quality (Rendille, 0.200; Gabra, 0.235), fat deposition (0.233) among the Rendille and drought tolerance (0.246) among the Gabra. For the rams’ sire, big body size (Rendille, 0.235; Gabra, 0.233), offspring quality (Rendille, 0.200; Gabra, 0.235) and fat deposition (Rendille, 0.203; Gabra, 0.220) were considered important. The results from this study imply that pedigree and performance recording have been practiced through own intricate knowledge and that pastoralists have deliberate selection criteria. This information is the cornerstone in the establishment of appropriate breeding programmes in the slowly changing pastoral systems.
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