Breed And Trait Preferences Of Sheko Cattle Keepers In Southwestern Ethiopia
Published 2010 · Medicine, Biology
Like their smallholder subsistence counterparts in developing countries, breed and trait preferences of Sheko cattle keepers have broad perspectives. Our study has documented breed and trait preferences of Sheko cattle keepers in southwestern Ethiopia—the natural breeding tract of Sheko cattle. Our results showed that due to their multifunctionality, cattle are the most preferred livestock species. Overall, farmers showed slightly more preference to local Zebus over Sheko breed. This is due to voracious feeding behavior of Sheko cattle, which make them less preferable in the face of worsening feed shortage, and due to aggressive temperament of Sheko cattle. This is despite Sheko's outperforming potential over local Zebus in their milk production, draft power, and hardiness. At trait level, overall milk production was consistently reported as the most preferred trait followed by fertility and traction. This trait preference rank has matched with the reported frequency count ranks for Sheko cattle use. However, breed preference rank has not matched with reported trait preference ranks because Sheko excels local Zebus in all the three most preferred traits, but it was ranked second. Therefore, to minimize these conflicting interests, breed management plans for Sheko cattle should target on strategies that help to solve feed shortage problem and to improve feeding practices, and on selection of less aggressive Sheko cattle. Therefore, these strategies should be considered in line with Sheko cattle conservation and genetic improvement programs.