Sheep, cattle, goats, chicken and donkeys were identified by all the groups as the common livestock species kept in the target zones (Table 1). Their relative proportions determined from proportional piling exercises did not differ by gender of participants or zone as indicated by the strong overall degree of agreement between groups (Kendall’s W = 0.99, p = < 0.001, n = 12 FGDs). The proportions of sheep and cattle were perceived to be higher in both zones compared to those of the other livestock species. Reasons given for the higher preference for sheep included better drought tolerance, steady production of milk even when cattle had been moved to dry season grazing areas in search of pastures, could be slaughtered at home, reproduced frequently—at least twice annually, and could be given out as gifts. Cattle, on the other hand, provided more income compared to sheep and were sold for capital expenses.
The relative proportions of goats, donkeys and chicken were lower than those of sheep and cattle. Goats were perceived to be more susceptible to diseases such as “olodua” (used for both enterotoxemia or peste des petits ruminants [PPR]), “olomorooj” (goat pox) and “orkipei” (contagious caprine pleuropneumonia [CCPP]). Donkeys were used for draught power to transport water and firewood, and were more likely to be stolen than the other livestock species. Predation and diseases were identified as the main challenges in poultry production.
Ranking of benefits from livestock
Table 2 gives overall median scores on perceived benefits from livestock by zone. In descending order of importance, the study identified (i) income from sale of livestock, (ii) milk, (iii) employment, (iv) payment of bride price, (v) meat and (vi) social status associated with livestock ownership as the most important livestock livelihoods. Other benefits such as hides for clothing and the use of livestock for draught power were regarded as being least important. A Kruskal–Wallis test comparison of the median scores for the livelihoods from livestock showed no statistically significant differences by zone (p > 0.05), apart from meat consumption (p = 0.006) which was apparently higher in zone 2 than zone 1. All the groups had high level of concordance on the generated median scores for the benefits (W = 0.78; range, 0.54–1.0; n = 12 FGDs) and there were no gender differences observed.
Prioritization of livestock diseases
The participants identified MCF, ECF, FMD, CBPP and AAT as five most prevalent diseases that affected cattle in the area in the previous year. Bovine ephemeral fever (BEF), anthrax, pox, salmonellosis (“orsetet”) and diseases with nervous syndrome such as bovine cerebral theileriosis (BCT), locally called “ormilo”, were least prevalent. No differences were noted on the spectra of diseases reported between zones and by gender.
FMD prevalence, mortality and impacts on market value
The groups identified three main cattle age groups, namely, calves (“elasho” < 1 year), weaners (“olaram” 2–3 years) and mature adults (“nkishu sapukin” > 4 years). The overall median proportion of cattle in the various age groups over the last 1 year showed that, those above 4 years constituted the largest percentage in the herd structure with 50% (range, 45–70). The calves and weaners were 20% (10–30) and 30% (20–30), respectively. The annual median prevalence of FMD was the highest amongst cattle > 4 years with 32.5% (range, 10–50), against 18.5% (10–25) and 12.5% (7–25) in weaners and calves respectively. A Kruskal–Wallis test comparison of these median scores indicated a significant difference in FMD annual prevalence between the cattle age groups (p < 0.001), but not between weaners and calves.
Slightly higher mortalities associated with FMD were observed amongst calves with median scores of 4.5% (range, 2–15) compared to weaners (0.5%; 0–10) and mature adults (1%; 0–15). The annual age-specific median prevalence and mortality estimates for FMD did not differ significantly between gender. All the 12 FGDs had strong level of agreement (W = 0.76, p < 0.001) for estimates on herd structure and annual age-specific FMD prevalence. The median scores for FMD prevalence and mortality estimates between zones were only significant for mortality estimates (Kruskal–Wallis test, p = 0.041). The median scores for FMD-associated mortalities in cattle were, respectively, 3.0% (range, 0–15) and 0.0% (range; 0–5) in zones 1 and 2, while the annual prevalence estimates were 18% (range, 7–50) and 20% (range, 10–50) respectively.
The median value of healthy cattle (without FMD) was US$ 300 (range, 250–700) for mature adults compared to weaners (US$ 200, 100–300) and calves (US$ 100, 50–175). The reduction in market sale value of FMD-infected cattle was estimated to be the highest in mature adults (median losses of US$ 175, range, 75–370) while value of calves and weaners would decrease by US$ 45 (range, 20–100) and US$ 60 (range, 20–150) of its normal value respectively. There were no significant differences between zones and gender on the given prices of cattle when healthy and when FMD infected. The overall agreement between groups for the given prices was high (W = 0.92, p < 0.001, n = 12 FGDs).
Disease impact matrix scoring results
Disease impact matrix scoring technique was used to rank cattle diseases based on their impacts on the livestock benefits. Reported impacts included reduction on milk production, decline in income from sale of animals and increased veterinary costs (supplementary material 1). All the diseases identified were perceived to reduce milk production. These diseases were ranked in a descending order based on their impacts on milk production as FMD, CBPP, AAT and MCF. This ranking was consistent between groups (W = 0.49, p < 0.001, n = 12); no significant differences were therefore observed on these impact scores by zone and gender. The impact of AAT was associated with frequent infections, while MCF was associated with high mortalities in livestock including those that were lactating.
MCF, CBPP, FMD, anthrax and goat pox, in decreasing order, were perceived to reduce income from the sale of live animals. Participants indicated that MCF, pox and anthrax were difficult to control, and therefore caused extensive case fatalities, because of unavailability of drugs and vaccines. Both FMD and CBPP reduced income and milk as they infected many cattle within herds with high case fatality.