Smallholder Cattle Farmers’ Breeding Practices And Trait Preferences In A Tropical Guinea Savanna Agro-ecological Zone
Published 2019 · Biology, Medicine
The present study was embarked upon to determine the breeding practices and choice of selection and breeding traits of cattle farmers in Nasarawa State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Nigeria. A total of 180 smallholder cattle herders were randomly sampled. However, analysis of data was restricted to 144 herders (81 from FCT and 63 from Nasarawa State). Primary data were collected through individual structured questionnaire administration. Chi-square (χ2) statistics were used to compare categorical variables. Arithmetic means of continuous variables between locations were tested using T test. Rank means were also calculated for within- and between-location comparisons of the preference traits. Chi-square automatic interaction detection (CHAID) algorithm was used to determine the influence of socio-economic parameters on the traits of preference. Access to credit, personal savings, and type of landholding were significantly (P < 0.05) different between the two locations with higher values recorded for farmers in FCT. However, farmers in Nasarawa State had significantly higher land expanse (2.28 ± 0.19 versus 1.29 ± 0.09). The production objectives were rated similar between locations. The number of foundation stock differed significantly between farmers in the two locations with higher mean recorded in Nasarawa (7.37 ± 0.37) compared to FCT (5.18 ± 0.19). However, mean herd size was higher (34.60 ± 2.58 versus 27.63 ± 2.00; P < 0.05) in FCT than Nasarawa. Among the productivity indices, only average age at first parturition and average calving interval were significantly (P < 0.05) influenced by location. Within the FCT, calving interval was the trait of utmost importance in selecting the breeding stock, followed by milk yield, disease resistance, and body size. In Nasarawa State, calving interval, disease resistance, milk yield, body size, and survival were ranked similarly (P >0.05). Across the two locations, body conformation (P < 0.05) and calving interval (P < 0.01) were more highly rated in FCT than Nasarawa State, while heat tolerance was less rated (P < 0.05) in the former. All the traits of preference were influenced by socio-economic factors, and could be exploited in future breeding plans to boost cattle production. A new livestock census in the study area is also advocated to reflect the current reality as regards cattle distribution.