Low infrastructure livestock breeding laboratories in Ethiopia

Community-based breeding programs
Community-based breeding programs

Ethiopia has one of the largest livestock population in Africa, which is central to smallholders and breeders’ livelihoods. Livestock provides income, food, and industrial raw materials such as wool and milk. However, efforts to select the best quality indigenous breeds for improved reproduction have been scant. 

To enhance the productivity of indigenous breeds and select the best performing ones, ICARDA and national Ethiopian partners, have developed a low-cost reproductive hub, which enhances the delivery of improved genetics for the major breeds of sheeps and goats. It contributes to transforming Ethiopia’s breeding programs by establishing low infrastructure laboratories within the community-based breeding programs (CBBPs)

The laboratories, the first on the African continent, offer scheduled natural mating plans, artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, detect fertility periods and provide certification for quality male breeds. In addition, the platform facilitates the selection of certified male parents that are genetically suitable, fit for reproduction and disease-free. This allows farmers to rule out unsuitable male breeds and check on repeat breeders – who are free from abnormalities but fail to conceive after insemination - while identifying pregnant females that farmers should not take to the market. ICARDA provides technical staff, farmers, and CBBP members with advanced, focused trainings on sheep and goat reproduction and reproductive biotechnologies.

IMPACT 

Bonga sheep gathered for field artificial insemination
Bonga sheep gathered for field artificial insemination
  • Broad adoption: 6,000 households have benefited from the reproductive platform in 12 Ethiopian districts. 540,000 adult female sheep in 9 districts, and 370,000 adult female goats in 3 districts in Ethiopia have directly or partly benefited from the services.
  • Improved methods: the labs offer effective artifical insemination methods that consist of  two injections 11 days apart, preceded by a careful selection of non-pregnant female sheep for cervical fixed-time artificial insemination with fresh semen. 
  • Better reproductive health: the program achieved conception rates up to 50-60% in extensive field trials; improvements in overall fertility and number of offspring produced by the CBBPs’ flocks were the result of better management practices.  
  • Genetic gains: widespread dissemination of genetic gain in the framework of CBBPs in Ethiopia.