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Livestock Value chain/ Ethiopia –Improved reproductive techniques enable effective use of superior rams on sheep breeding programs

14 May 2015

Community-Based goat and sheep Breeding Programs (CBBP) in Ethiopia have been promoted and implemented jointly by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), and partners from the national agricultural research system. Community-based breeding ensures farmer participation in selection and breeding processes, from inception through to implementation. Genetic improvement of small ruminants has been identified as “best bet” in Ethiopia’s highland areas: Atsbi and Doyogena. The breeding programme targets to accomplish accurate control of the timing of reproductive events, maximize the number of females giving birth and ensure the survival of lambs and their ability to grow and mature into productive animals. Lately, improved rams and bucks produced by the CBBP’s are shared to serve the ewes in the highland communities. There is compelling evidence that improved rams and bucks are bringing genetic progress where they are used. Features inherent to the production systems, in particular the small flock sizes, means the reproductive impact of the improved sires is limited. To scale out the genetic progress made and expand the use of improved rams and bucks, the Ethiopian small ruminant value chain has explored additional options to deliver improved genetics to communities: assessing improved males for their breeding soundness, disseminating healthy improved males and improving the delivery system of improved rams either through natural mating or artificial insemination. Through advances in reproductive technology, a small number of top rams and bucks can be used to serve a large small ruminant population. In addition, each ram or buck is able to produce a larger number of offspring in a given time, thus enhancing the efficiency of progeny testing.


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