High population growth and rising living standards are putting pressure on Ethiopia’s livestock owners to increase the productivity of their animals. Improving the genetic potential of the country’s livestock is one of the keys—with better feeds and better health—to achieving food and nutrition security, and better lives through livestock. This latest research brief by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Animal breeding and genetics in the Ethiopia livestock master plan, outlines how quick-win genetic-based technologies—including artificial insemination (AI) with oestrous synchronization and community-based schemes to improve indigenous breeds as well—can significantly contribute to transformed value chains for cattle, small ruminants and poultry.

Ethiopia will need to develop improvement strategies for each species: undertaking within-breed selection for best-performing breeds and crossing them with other indigenous breeds, and provide training to farmers on genetic improvement activities and improved animal husbandry practices.

Despite the abundance of livestock resources in Ethiopia, the depth of its research and the quantity of available technologies, there have so far been few sustained attempts to improve indigenous breeds using between- and within-breed selection procedures. Despite campaigns to encourage crossbreeding between local and exotic breeds of almost all domestic livestock, the number of crossbreds is still negligible. Even in species crossbred in Ethiopia for several decades, such as cattle and poultry, numbers do not exceed 1% of the total national populations.

Genetic gains can be obtained by crossbreeding Ethiopia’s local (generally hardy but low-yielding) animals with (high-yielding) exotic breeds and by improving local breeds through selection. Analyses by experts who developed Ethiopia’s livestock master plan (LMP) argue that sustained support will be needed from all stakeholders, particularly the Government of Ethiopia, to achieve these gains...

...More information on http://news.ilri.org/2015/09/23/animal-breeding-and-genetics-in-the-ethiopia-livestock-master-plan/