Breeding and herd structure in livestockbased agropastoralism systems in Chepareria, West Pokot, Kenya
Abstract: The development towards a sustainable agro-pastoralism started late in Chepareria Division, Kenya, but is today moving fast. The livestock-based agro-pastoralists widely apply crossbreeding with imported exotic breeds for rapid performance improvements. There is a great shortage of breeding- and genetic knowledge and because no long-term breeding programs are practiced there is a risk of losing valuable genetic variation of indigenous breeds. The documentation on the livestock production in Chepareria is inadequate. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the current breeding strategies and herd structures, as well as the purpose of the animal production. A combination of structured and semi-structured interviews was made on thirty farms in the areas Ywalateke and Pserum. Twenty farms were randomly selected and ten farms were chosen because they were considered to have the best livestock management performance. The number of animals in the herd did not differ between the two areas, neither between the randomly selected nor chosen farms. Crossbreeding was used by 83% of the farmers and 67% of the farmers planned their breeding in some way. The only significant difference (P= 0.05) between the two regions seen was that own bulls were more commonly housed on farms in Pserum. The purpose of the production was shown to be both for selling and self-consumption. Products produced were; milk, meat, live animals, eggs, manure and hides. The reasons for selling products were predominant to pay for school fees, as education was considered of great importance. The prices given for live animals at the market were shown to differ a lot due to type, sex, and breed. Milk was seldom sold and the daily milk yield was difficult to estimate because of different measuring tools among the farms. For future improvement more detailed investigations have to be done. To launch long-term breeding strategies, blood samples of livestock animal need to be taken to determinate individual genetic composition. A moderate use of crossbreeding should also be considered.
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