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Participatory Definition Of Breeding Objectives And Selection Indexes For Sheep Breeding In Traditional Systems

Solomon Gizaw, Hans Komen, Johan A.M. van Arendonk
Published 2010 · Biology

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Abstract A farmer participatory approach was used to define breeding objectives and selection indexes for short-fat-tailed sheep in sheep–barley systems and Black Head Somali sheep in pastoral systems in Ethiopia. Breeding-objective traits were identified based on producers' preferences for traits collected during interviews. The desired gains in the various traits were calculated based on the producers' preferences for traits and were used to weigh traits in the breeding objective using selection-index methodology. This study recognized subsistence producers (producing yearlings) and subsistence + producers (producing and finishing yearlings) within sheep–barley and pastoral systems. Producers' preferences for traits showed that adaptive traits are more important (pastoral system) or as important (sheep–barley system) as production traits. Subsistence producers gave more weight to adaptive traits than did the more market-oriented subsistence + producers. A low correlation (0.31) was found between selection indexes constructed for subsistence and subsistence + producers in the sheep–barley system. This demonstrates that breeding objectives need to be tailored to the specific needs of the different groups of farmers. The results of our study can be used to design sheep breeding programs in Ethiopia and elsewhere with similar production circumstances. We present an approach to incorporate producers' preferred breeding objectives into conventional selection tools.
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