Pastoral indigenous breeding practices and their impact on cattle reproduction performance: The case of Kilosa and Gairo districts
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Sokoine University of Agriculture, P O Box 3020, Morogoro, Tanzania; National Livestock Research Institute Mpwapwa, P O Box 202, Mpwapwa, Tanzania
Breeding methods used by pastoral (traditional) cattle keepers in Kilosa and Gairo districts were studied to establish their influence on reproduction performance. One-to-one interviews guided by coded and pretested structured questionnaire were conducted to 220 livestock households in 31 villages. Checklists and researchers' diary provided additional information. Results reveal that key methods of breeding rely on animal identification, recording and separation (castration) of animals. At birth, cattle receive collective and individual names based on genealogy. The recording of such information is mental. All females are used for breeding save in cases of extreme poor health. Bulls are recruited into breeding or non - breeding groups on basis of performance of ancestors and individual's outlook. The method of recruitment into "breeding animals" facilitates continuous use of animals of same lineage for over a long time. In Kilosa district, 75.5% of bulls were kept and used by same house hold for over 15 years while in Gairo district bulls were kept for over 10 years. Only a small per cent of bulls was introduced from outside. Thirty two per cent of bulls unsuitable for breeding were castrated and used for activities other than breeding. The large herds (n = 300 animals) kept by pastoralists made it difficult to remember identity of individual animals. Consequently recruitment into a breeding group was incorrect and lead to inbreeding evidenced by genetic defects (i.e. 40% calves born in Mikumi herds had atresia-ani). It is concluded that pastoralists have a rich body of indigenous knowledge on breeding which must be ameliorated before any improvement in cattle breeding is attempted.