Animal Breeding / Animal Production / ASSP / Cattle / Dairying / DFATD / East Africa / Ethiopia / ILRI / LIVES / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-FISH / Research

Oestrus synchronization for accelerated delivery of improved dairy genetics in Ethiopia

Oestrous synchronization is the manipulation of the oestrous cycle or induction of oestrus to bring a large percentage of a group of females cattle into oestrus at a short, predetermined time.

The first field trial on hormonal oestrous synchronization regime and mass artificial insemination was conducted by the Improving Productivity and Market Success (IPMS) project in Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNP) regions. The objective was to improve access to improved dairy genetics by smallholder farmers and to kick-start market-oriented smallholder dairy development in Ethiopia. Following the field trial, the synchronization technology was adopted and scaled up by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and regional Bureaus of Agriculture (BoAs) in collaboration with the IPMS and Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) projects of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)) and the national research system. Performance of the scaled up project was inconsistent in the application of the technology and the results achieved.

This working paper synthesizes results of action research activities and performance of the technology at larger scale, discuss implications of the results and draw recommendations for effective and sustained application of the technology in Ethiopia.

The results of the four studies in the four highland regional states showed that farmers’ breeding methods have significantly shifted to Artificial Insemination (AI). However, availability, regularity and the effectiveness/efficiency of the service is below expectation of farmers and the current studies indeed showed that conception rates are low.

Hormonal synchronization of oestrus is well adopted by farmers who had the access to the service. However, farmers expressed low satisfaction with the service, although evaluation of the technology by farmers is confounded with low conception rates which may also result mainly from low efficiency in the AI practice. This argument could be supported by the data generated in this study that oestrous response rate per se was very high, but conception rates were very low. AI technicians’ skill on identification of functional corpus luteum (CL) and AI skill are important determinants of successful oestrous synchronization and pregnancy.

A comparison of results from action research activities and the regular synchronized AI service indicated that there is a possibility to improve the service; oestrous response can be increased by18.2% and conception rate by 46.6%. However, a strict follow up of activities, skill upgrading and consideration of the factors affecting oestrous response and successful pregnancy presented in this paper and elsewhere in the literature need to be considered for a successful oestrous synchronization and AI service. Choice of technically right and practically feasible protocol is essential for a successful breeding program.

Based on the results, it can be recommended that single dose and heat detection could be a more feasible protocol than the double dose protocol for Ethiopia. Further challenges to the oestrous synchronization and AI program are embryo loss (which was found to be high in the current study), incidence of missed AI opportunity due to failure to detect heat and wrong insemination of non-oestrous cows, and pregnancy diagnosis through rectal palpation which could be intrusive and could not be done earlier than 60 days post AI. Technological aides that use progesterone profiling (e.g. using Hormonost®) could be a solution for all the above challenges

Download the working paper:

Gizaw, S., Tesfaye, Y., Mekuriaw, Z., Tadesse, M., Hoekstra, D., Gebremedhin, B. and Tegegne, A. 2016. Oestrus synchronization for accelerated delivery of improved dairy genetics in Ethiopia: Results from action research and development interventions. LIVES Working Paper 12. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

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