Skip to main content
Log in

Production systems and breeding practices of Arab and Oromo goat keepers in northwestern Ethiopia: implications for community-based breeding programs

  • Regular Articles
  • Published:
Tropical Animal Health and Production Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We conducted a household survey in the semi-arid and sub-humid parts of Benishangul Gumuz region in northwestern Ethiopia to better understand and describe production systems and breeding practices of Arab and Oromo goat keepers. Multistage random sampling was employed to select peasant associations, while probability proportional to size sampling was used to select households. Data were collected from 249 households, out of which 86 were Arab and 163 were Oromo goat keepers that live in semi-arid and sub-humid agroecologies, respectively. Personal observations, focus group discussions, and structured questionnaires were used to collect data. Data were analyzed using SPSS and results were presented using descriptive statistics and indices. Ninety-two percent of Arab and 86% of Oromo goat keepers indicated crop and livestock production as their main occupation. Goats were kept for a variety of purposes. Income generation, meat, and savings were the highest priorities. The average flock size owned by Arab goat keepers (12.5 ± 4.0) was significantly (p < 0.01) higher than that of Oromo goat keepers (9.9 ± 3.8). Breeding does constituted the largest average flock size followed by kids, young does, and young bucks. Body size, twining ability, coat color, and kid growth were considered important in selecting breeding does, while body size, growth rate, coat color, and libido were the most preferred traits for buck selection. Mating was predominantly uncontrolled mainly due to communal grazing lands. Castration of bucks was significantly (p < 0.01) more frequent in Arab goat keepers than in Oromo goat keepers. Arab goats have better reproductive performance than Oromo goats. On average, female goats in the study areas gave first births at the age of 1.2 years, kidded every 7.5 months, stayed on reproduction for about 7.6 years, and produced 10.7 kids per lifetime. Compared with Arab goats, Oromo goats had significantly (p < 0.01) higher average age at first mating, age at first kidding, kidding interval, and reproductive lifetime but produced lower average number of kids per lifetime. Nucleus breeding schemes are recommended to optimize the limited available resources in the study areas. A single nucleus could serve both Arab and Oromo goat keepers. In conclusion, breeding programs implemented in the study areas should consider the production systems and breeding practices of Arab and Oromo goat keepers appropriately.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Abegaz, S.G., Sölkner, J., Gizaw, G., Dessie, T., Haile, A., and Wurzinger, M., 2013. Description of production systems and morphological characteristics of Abergelle and Western lowland goat breeds in Ethiopia: implication for community-based breeding programs. Animal Genetic Resources, 53, 69–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Adesina, A., Mbila, D., Nkamleu, G., and Endamana, D., 2000. Econometric analysis of the determinants of adoption of alley farming by farmers in the forest zone of southwest Cameroon. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 80, 255–265.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alemu, Y., 2009. Castration of sheep and goats. Technical Bulletin Number 18. Ethiopian Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program. R.C. Merkel (eds). 12pp.

  • Armstrong, J.B., 2006. Inbreeding: Why we will not do it? Accessed on March 20, 2019 from

  • Arsham, H., 2007. Business Statistics, Decision Science and Systematic Simulation. Merrick School of Business. Charles at Mount Royal, Baltimore, Maryland, 21201. University of Baltimore, USA.

  • Awgichew, K., and Abegaz, S., 2008. Breeds of sheep and goats. In: Alemu Yami and R.C. Merkel (eds.). Sheep and goat Production Hand Book for Ethiopia. Ethiopian Sheep and Goats Productivity Improvement Program (ESGPIP), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, pp. 59–72.

  • Ayalew, W., Rischkowsky, B., King, J.M., and Bruns E., 2003. Crossbreds did not create more net benefits than indigenous goats in Ethiopian smallholdings. Agricultural Systems, 76, 1137–1156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bambasi BoARD, 2018. Bambasi Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. Physical and socioeconomic profile of Bambasi district. Unpublished report. Bambasi, Ethiopia.

  • Banerjee, A.K., Animut, G., and Ermias, E., 2000. Selection and breeding strategies for increased productivity of goats in Ethiopia. In: R.C Merkel, G. Abebe and A.L. Goetsch (eds). The opportunities and challenges of enhancing goat production in East Africa. Proceedings of a conference held at Debub University, Awassa, Ethiopia from November 10 to 12, 2000. E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat research, Langston University, Langston, OK pp.70–79.

  • Biruh, T., Kefelegn, K., and Kefena, E., 2017. Traditional goat husbandry practice under pastoral systems in South Omo zone, southern Ethiopia. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 49, 625–632.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • CSA (Central Statistical Agency), 2015. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Agricultural sample survey, 2014/2015 (2007 E.C). Report on livestock and livestock characteristics. Statistical Bulletin No.578, Vol. 2, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • CSA (Central Statistical Agency), 2017. Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Agricultural sample survey, 2016/2017 (2009 E.C.). Report on livestock and livestock characteristics. Statistical Bulletin No.585, Vol. 2, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Dossa, L.H, Sangaré, M., Buerkert, A.C., and Schlecht, E., 2015. Production objectives and breeding practices of urban goat and sheep keepers in West Africa: regional analysis and implications for the development of supportive breeding programs. Springer Plus, 4, 281.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dubeuf, J.P., 2010 Characteristics and diversity of the dairy goat production systems and industry around the world. Structural, market and organizational conditions for their development. Tecnol Ciên Agropec, 4, 25–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duguma, G., 2010. Participatory definition of breeding objectives and implementation of community based sheep breeding programs in Ethiopia. A PhD thesis, University of Natural Resources and life sciences, Vienna.

  •, 2018. Homosha Town, Homosha, Asosa, Ethiopia on the Elevation Map. Topographic Map of Homosha Town, Homosha, Asosa, Ethiopia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

  • Falconer, D.S., and Mackay, T.F.C., 1996. Introduction to Quantitative Genetics. 4th Edition, Addison Wesley Longman, Harlow.

    Google Scholar 

  • FAOSTAT, 2016. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, statistical division. Last accessed on 15 March, 2018.

  • FARM Africa, 1996. Goat types of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Physical description and management systems. Published jointly by FARM-Africa, London, UK and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. 76 pp.

  • Getnet, A., Hegde, B.P., Bekele, T., Enyew, N., and Workneh, A., 2005. Phenotypic characterization of goat types in northwestern Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of Animal Production, 5, 13–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gizaw, S., 2009. Goat breeds of Ethiopia: A guide for identification and utilization. In: Alemu Yami, Kassahun Awgichew, T.A. Gipson and R.C. Merkel (eds). Ethiopian Sheep and Goats Productivity Improvement Program (ESGPIP), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Technical bulletin number 27, 1–9.

  • Gizaw, S., Komen, H., and van Arendonk, J.A.M., 2010. Participatory definition of breeding objectives and selection indexes for sheep breeding in traditional systems. Livestock Science, 128, 67–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gizaw, S., Getachew, T., Tibbo, M., Haile, A., and Dessie T., 2011. Congruence between selection on breeding values and farmers’ selection criteria in sheep breeding under conventional nucleus breeding schemes. Animal, 5, 995–1001.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gizaw, S., Getachew, T., Goshme, S., Valle-Zárate, A., Van Arendonk, J.A.M., Kemp, S., Mwai, A.O., and Dessie, T., 2014. Efficiency of selection for body weight in a cooperative village breeding program of Menz sheep under smallholder farming system. Animal, 8, 1249–1254.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hagos, A., Gizaw, S., and Urge, M., 2018. Identification of breeding objectives for Begait goat in western Tigray, North Ethiopia. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 50(8): 1887–1892.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haile, A., Maria, W., Joaquín, M., Mirkena, T., Duguma, G., Okeyo, M., Johann, S., and Rischkowsky, B., 2011. Guidelines for Setting up Community-based Sheep Breeding Programs in Ethiopia. ICARDA - tools and guidelines No.1. Aleppo, Syria, ICARDA.

  • Haile, A., Mirkena, T., Duguma, G., Wurzinger, M., Rischkowsky, B., Tibbo, M., Okeyo, M., and Sölkner, J., 2013. Community based sheep breeding programs: Tapping into indigenous knowledge. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 25, Article #219. Retrieved June 02, 2019, from

  • Halima, H., Michael, B., Rischkowsky, B., and Tibbo, M., 2012a. Phenotypic characterization of Ethiopian indigenous goat populations. African Journal of Biotechnology, 11(73): 13838–13846.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halima, H., Lababidi, S., Rischkowsky, B, Baum, M., and Tibbo, M., 2012b. Molecular characterization of Ethiopian indigenous goat populations. Tropical Animal Health Production, 44(6): 1239–1246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hassen, A.S., and Tesfaye, Y., 2014. Sheep and goat production objectives in pastoral and agro-pastoral production systems in Chifra district of Afar, Ethiopia. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 46, 1467–1474.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Homosha BoARD, 2018. Homosha Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development. Physical and socioeconomic profile of Homosha district. Unpublished report. Homosha, Ethiopia.

  • Jaitner, J., Sowe, J., Secka-Njie, E., and Dempfle, L., 2001. Ownership pattern and management practices of small ruminants in the Gambia: implications for a breeding program. Small Ruminant Research, 40, 101–108.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kohler-Rollefson, I., and Rathore, H.S., 2006. Documentation of animal genetic resource: the life method. LEISA (Center for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture) magazine. Vol. 22. No. 1, March 2006. Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

  • Kosgey, I.S., 2004. Breeding objectives and breeding strategies for small ruminants in the Tropics. Ph.D. Thesis, Wageningen University, the Netherlands. (ISBW: 90–5808–990-8) Germany. 271pp.

  • Kosgey, I.S., and Okeyo, A.M., 2007. Genetic improvement of small ruminants in low-input, smallholder production systems: technical and infrastructural issues. Small Ruminant Research, 70, 76–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kosgey, I.S., Baker, R.L., Udo, H.M.J., and van Arendonk J.A.M., 2006. Successes and failures of small ruminant breeding programs in the tropics: a review. Small Ruminant Research, 61, 13–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kosgey, I.S., Rowlands, G.J., van Arendonk, J.A.M., and Baker, R.L., 2008. Small ruminant production in smallholder and pastoral/extensive farming systems in Kenya. Small Ruminant Research, 77, 11–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kristy, B., Ravi, R., Lind, S., Selwyn, H., Annmarie, P.H., Ansari, H., Michele, D.S., and Lisa H., 2016. The Trinidad and Tobago Dairy Goat Manual: Breeds, Milking, Herd health, Records.

    Google Scholar 

  •, maps, geolocated articles, latitude longitude coordinate conversion., 2018. GPS coordinates of Bambasi, Ethiopia. Latitude: 9.7500 Longitude: 34.7333. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

  • Legese, G., and Fadiga, M., 2014. Small ruminant value chain development in Ethiopia: Situation analysis and trends. ICARDA/ILRI Project Report. Nairobi, Kenya: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas/International Livestock Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Legese, G., Haile, A., Duncan, A.J., Dessie, T., Gizaw, S. and Rischkowsky, B., 2014. Sheep and goat value chains in Ethiopia: A synthesis of opportunities and constraints. ICARDA/ILRI Project Report. Nairobi, Kenya: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas/International Livestock Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mekuriaw, G., 2016. Molecular Characterization of Ethiopian Indigenous Goat Populations: Genetic Diversity and Structure, Demographic Dynamics and Assessment of the Kisspeptin Gene Polymorphism. A PhD dissertation submitted to the department of Microbial, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Merkorewos, H., 2008. Assessment of Local Economic Development Potential and Proposal of Interventions for Bambasi and Bullen Weredas. Study on Emerging Regions Development Program, UNDP/UNCDF and Ministry of Federal Affairs.

  • Mirkena, T., 2010. Identifying breeding objectives of smallholders/pastoralists and optimizing community-based breeding programs for adapted sheep breeds in Ethiopia. A PhD thesis, University of Natural Resources and life sciences, Vienna.

  • Mueller, J.P., Flores, E.R., and Gutierrez, G., 2002. Experiences with a large-scale sheep genetic improvement project in the Peruvian highlands. In proceedings of the 7th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. Montpellier (France), 19–23 August 2002. Communication 25-12.

  • Negasa, D., 2017. The role of rural land registration in enhancing governance and tenure security of communal holding in Benishangul Gumuz regional state of Ethiopia: Can communal grazing land be saved from threats of encroachment by the non-holders?

  • Okeno, T.O., Kahi, A.K. and Peters, K.J., 2011. Characterization of indigenous chicken production systems in Kenya. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 44, 601–608.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Onzima, R.B., Gizaw, S., Kugonza, D.R., van Arendonk, J. A. M., and Kanis, E., 2018. Production system and participatory identification of breeding objective traits for indigenous goat breeds of Uganda. Small Ruminant Research, 163, 51–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roeleveld, A.C.W., 1996. The diagnostic phase in research in livestock systems. In: Roeleveld, A.C.W., van den Broek, A. (eds), Focusing Livestock Systems Research. Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, pp. 14–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seleka, T.B., 2001. Determinants of short-run supply of small ruminants in Botswana. Small Ruminant Research, 40, 203–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Solomon, A.K., Mwai, O., Grum, G., Haile, A., Rischkowsky, B., Solomon, G., and Dessie, T., 2014. Review of goat research and development projects in Ethiopia. ILRI Project Report. Nairobi, Kenya: International Livestock Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • SPSS for windows, 2013. Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Release 22.0. The Apache software foundation.

  • Wilson, R.T., and Durkin, J.W., 1988. Small ruminant production in central Mali: reproductive Performance in traditionally managed goats and sheep. Livestock Production Science, 19, 523–529.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wurzinger, M., Sölkner, J., and Iniguez, L., 2011. Important aspects and limitations in considering community-based breeding programs for low-input smallholder livestock systems. Small Ruminant Research, 98, 170–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yadeta, N., Manzoor, A.K., and Gemeda D., 2016. Study of Productive and Reproductive Performances and Farmers’ Traits Preferences for Breeding of Small Ruminants in Ada Barga and Ejere Districts of West Shoa Zone, Oromia, Ethiopia. Advances in Life Science and Technology. Vol. 49, 2016.

Download references


The corresponding author gratefully acknowledges the Federal Ministry of Education, Ethiopia, for the PhD fellowship award, Biotechnology Research Institute of Bahir Dar University for funding this research, and farmers who spared their free time for the interview and allowed their farms for the study. The immense contribution of Tsion Issayas in editing the language is duly acknowledged. The support of field enumerators and government extension staff at the study districts and PAs is also greatly appreciated.

Contribution of authors

Oumer Sheriff drafted and organized the manuscript while Kefyalew Alemayehu and Aynalem Haile participated in coordination and drafting the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Oumer Sheriff.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The paper meets all applicable standards with regard to ethics and integrity. The corresponding author along with the co-authors submitted this paper with full responsibility following due ethical procedure. There are no duplicate publications, fraud, or plagiarism. Furthermore, the manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sheriff, O., Alemayehu, K. & Haile, A. Production systems and breeding practices of Arab and Oromo goat keepers in northwestern Ethiopia: implications for community-based breeding programs. Trop Anim Health Prod 52, 1467–1478 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: