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

History and experiences of hormonal oestrus synchronization and mass insemination of cattle for improved genetics in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has over 54 million indigenous cattle, and about 11.2 million are breeder cows. The number of improved dairy type animals is insignificant. The dairy production system is constrained by a number of factors. These include subsistence-oriented production system, lack of awareness of improved livestock production system (by farmers, pastoralists/agro-pastoralists, professional and policy and decision-makers), feed resources, animal diseases, markets, etc. The burden of this huge livestock resource is also compromised by the poor reproductive performance, with an annual calving rate of about 45%.

One of the key interventions in the development of dairy value chain in Ethiopia is to improve smallholders’ access to genetically improved dairy cows in areas where dairy development is feasible.

To address this bottleneck attempts have been made to experiment with private artificial insemination (AI) service
delivery, private bull stations and the facilitation of purchase of crossbred heifers. However, although some improvements could be observed, it was difficult to ensure large-scale impact, particularly at smallholders’ level.

The use of mass insemination in targeted production areas using hormones to regulate the oestrus cycle was considered as a possible alternative option.

This working paper is based on the results of testing a simple hormonal oestrus synchronization protocol and mass insemination under on-farm conditions in order to improve access to improved dairy genetics by smallholder farmers and to kick-start market-oriented smallholder dairy development in selected sites.

It documents the history of oestrous synchronization in Ethiopia and experiences of the IPMS and LIVES projects and partners in testing and implementing this innovative approach. While the approach was first tested in the fluid milksheds in urban and peri-urban areas, it may also be used in rural areas where butter is the main dairy product and in areas where beef/live animals are the main production outputs.

Download the working paper:

Tegegne, A., Hoekstra, D., Gebremedhin, B. and Gizaw, S. 2016. History and experiences of hormonal oestrus synchronization and mass insemination of cattle for improved genetics in Ethiopia: From science to developmental impact. LIVES Working Paper 16. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

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