Indigenous selection criteria in Ankole cattle and different production systems in Uganda
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Ankole cattle are kept in South-Western Uganda, which is part of the cattle corridor, an area that was traditionally communal grazing land and pastoral systems. Currently, the pastoral system is undergoing a dramatic change due to land shortage, market forces and political reasons. Four different regions were identified and 30 farmers each were interviewed. In the two areas with more traditional systems main selection criteria in cows and bulls are body characteristics (coat colour, horn size and colour). Here, herds are generally larger and cattle are the main source of income. During the dry season, some families still move with their cattle in search of water and pasture. In the two other areas farmers are sedentary and both livestock and crop production contribute to the income. Due to increasing population pressure the trend is to keep few but more productive animals. Selection focuses more on production traits like milk yield, growth and fertility. Crossbreeding with exotic cattle breeds is becoming more popular. Farmers mention that Ankole have advantages over exotic breeds in terms of disease resistance, heat tolerance, lower feed requirements and the beauty of the animals. The study reported here was carried out to describe the production system with a focus on indigenous knowledge and the documentation of changes. Implications of the on-going changes on future development and improvement interventions are also discussed.