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On-farm phenotypic characterization of Ogaden cattle populations of Jigjiga zone, southeastern Ethiopia

Authors:
  • University of Molise; Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute

Abstract and Figures

An exploratory survey of local cattle populations was conducted in November 2012 to phenotypically characterize Ogaden cattle populations of Jigjiga zone in southeastern Ethiopia. Three sampling sites were purposively selected after reviewing secondary data and making discussions with key informants. Individual interviews and focus group discussions were made with pastoralists to generate information on breed origin and status. Data on morphological variability were generated based on measurements taken on 40 bulls and 123 heifers and cows. Results from Analysis of data showed that all quantitative dependent variables other than ear length, horn length and cannon bone length were significantly (P < 0.001) affected by sex of the animal. The phenotypic variations in male and female sample populations for most quantitative traits were not significantly (P<0.05) affected by site reflecting the homogeneity of cattle populations across the three sampling districts in Jigjiga zone. There were significant positive correlations among most linear measurements (P<0.01 and P<0.05). The highest values were found between mouth circumference and heart girth (r=0.67) (P < 0.01) and height at wither and heart girth (r=0.65) (P < 0.01). The lowest value was between horn length and hock circumference (r=0.18) (P < 0.05). The chi-square tests for coat colour pattern, body colour, head colour, hump position, udder size, teat size, naval flap width and dewlap width indicated the presence of significant (P<0.05) association with site. Outcomes of individual interviews revealed that raising Ogaden cattle in Jigjiga zone is not a recent phenomenon. 55.6% of the interviewees agreed that the breed population is showing a declining trend due to disease and drought. Thus based on the results of morphological measurements, and outcomes of individual interviews and focus group discussions with pastoralists, the indigenous cattle population of the study area were found homogenous for most quantitative variables. However, further genetic characterization needs to be done to estimate the level of genetic distinctiveness from surrounding breeds.
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1
Correct citation:
Fasil Getachew, Solomon Abegaz, Manaye Misganaw and Tesfu Fekansa. 2014. On-farm
phenotypic characterization of Ogaden cattle populations of Jigjiga zone, southeastern Ethiopia.
Eth. J. Anim. Prod.
14:66-83.
On-farm phenotypic characterization of Ogaden cattle
populations of Jigjiga zone, southeastern Ethiopia
Fasil Getachew1, Solomon Abegaz, Manaye Misganaw, Tesfu Fekansa
Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI), P.OBox 30726, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Abstract
An exploratory survey of local cattle populations was conducted in November 2012 to phenotypically characterize
Ogaden cattle populations of Jigjiga zone in southeastern Ethiopia. Three sampling sites were purposively selected
after reviewing secondary data and making discussions with key informants. Individual interviews and focus group
discussions were made with pastoralists to generate information on breed origin and status. Data on morphological
variability were generated based on measurements taken on 40 bulls and 123 heifers and cows. Results from Analysis
of data showed that all quantitative dependent variables other than ear length, horn length and cannon bone length
were significantly (P < 0.001) affected by sex of the animal. The phenotypic variations in male and female sample
populations for most quantitative traits were not significantly (P<0.05) affected by site reflecting the homogeneity of
cattle populations across the three sampling districts in Jigjiga zone. There were significant positive correlations
among most linear measurements (P<0.01 and P<0.05). The highest values were found between mouth circumference
and heart girth (r=0.67) (P < 0.01) and height at wither and heart girth (r=0.65) (P < 0.01). The lowest value was
between horn length and hock circumference (r=0.18) (P < 0.05). The chi-square tests for coat colour pattern, body
colour, head colour, hump position, udder size, teat size, naval flap width and dewlap width indicated the presence of
significant (P<0.05) association with site. Outcomes of individual interviews revealed that raising Ogaden cattle in
Jigjiga zone is not a recent phenomenon. 55.6% of the interviewees agreed that the breed population is showing a
declining trend due to disease and drought. Thus based on the results of morphological measurements, and outcomes
of individual interviews and focus group discussions with pastoralists, the indigenous cattle population of the study
area were found homogenous for most quantitative variables. However, further genetic characterization needs to be
done to estimate the level of genetic distinctiveness from surrounding breeds.
Key words: phenotypic characterization, indigenous cattle populations, Jigjiga zone, southeastern Ethiopia
1Corresponding author email: fasilgetachew7@gmail.com
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Introduction
Ethiopia has one of the largest cattle populations in Africa. The total number of cattle in all regions
of the country except the non-sedentary population of three zones of Afar and six zones of Somali
region was estimated to be 53.99 million (CSA, 2013). The majority of these cattle (98.95 percent)
are indigenous breeds which are kept under extensive management. Hybrid and exotic breeds
accounted for about 0.94 percent and 0.11 percent, respectively (CSA, 2013). If we include the
value of ploughing services, livestock provided 45% of agricultural GDP in 2008-09 (Behnke,
2010).
It is increasingly recognized that the use, development and conservation of livestock biodiversity
are of great importance to food security, rural development and the environment (Pilling et al.,
2008). Phenotypic characterization of the indigenous livestock breeds is critical in breed
improvement and conservation (Jing et al., 2010; Kugonza et al., 2011).
The Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Information System (DAGRIS) database (DAGRIS,
2007) summarized that there are 32 recognized indigenous cattle breeds in Ethiopia. Cattle breeds
subjected to phenotypic characterization studies in recent years include: Begaria in northwestern
Ethioipia (EBI, unpublished data); Gamo highland and Gamo lowland in south Ethiopia (Chencha
et al., 2013); Gojjam Highland zebu and Fogera breeds in the central highlands (Fasil, 2006);
Kereyu in Central Ethiopia (Shiferaw and Workneh, 2006); Wollo Highland, Raya Sanga and Afar
Sanga in the northeast (Dereje, 2005); Abergalle, Irob and Medenes cattle breeds in the north
(Zerabruk and Vangen, 2005; Zerabruk and Vangen, 2007); Wegera, Dembia and Mahibere-
silassie breeds in the northwest (Zewdu, 2004); and Mursi cattle in south Ethiopia (Endashaw,
2010).
The Ogaden Zebu, also known in the literature as the Lowland Zebu, is classified as Small East
Africa Zebu breed, and described as a strain of the Borana occupying the Ogaden rangelands of
southeastern Ethiopia. They are mainly kept for milk production, but are good beef animals and
adapted to arid to semi-arid pastoral system (Rege and Tawah, 1999).
While the growth, reproductive performance and morphological features of Ogaden cattle were
evaluated under on-station conditions in the Hararghe highlands (Getinet, 2005), the phenotypic
characteristics and heterogeneity of the breed in its natural tract has not been documented.
3
The present study was conducted to test the general hypothesis that the Ogaden cattle populations
managed by pastoralists in Jigjiga zone are phenotypically heterogeneous.
Materials and methods
Description of the study area
This study was conducted in Jigjiga zone of southeastern Ethiopia. Jigjiga zone is one of the three
zones of the Somali National Regional State (SNRS) and consists of six districts.
The zone is characterized by plain topography. The mean minimum and maximum temperature
ranges from 16-200c (NMSA, 2004). It has a bimodal rainfall from March to May and from July
to mid October with highly erratic distribution. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 600 to 700
mm (ICRA, 1997). The total human population of the zone was reported as about 967,652 (CSA,
2007). The dominant cattle production system in the area is agro-pastoralism. The estimated
livestock population and beehives of Jigjiga zone were 368, 156 cattle, 972, 528 sheep, 747,685
goats, 87, 835 camels 70, 913 donkeys, 14,331 chickens and 2,121 beehives (CSA, 2013).
Agro-ecological features of the study area are presented in table 1 below.
Table 1.Description of the study sites
Districts/ sites
Altitude
(masl)
Latitude
Longitude
Agro-
ecology
Jigjiga
1649
090 16’ 16.7’’
0420 47’ 54.9’’
Lowland
Kebri Beyah
1569
090 03’ 05.2’’
0430 05’ 40.7’’
Lowland
Gursum
1500
09020’ 30’’
042035’49’’
Lowland
Study population
Indigenous cattle populations in three districts of Jigjiga zone and households keeping cattle
constituted the study population.
Sample size and sampling method
The sampling frame was defined after a review of available secondary information and key
informant discussions on the presence of Ogaden cattle populations in Jigjiga zone. An exploratory
field visit was made to make on-farm observations of the cattle populations and hold discussions
with livestock researchers, agricultural experts on distributions of Ogaden cattle. The actual cattle
breed survey was then conducted in November 2012 in selected districts of the zone during which
measurements were done on mature cattle and livestock keepers were interviewed.
4
Four kebeles from three districts were selected purposively considering the size of cattle population
and accessibility. Linear and qualitative body measurements were taken from 163 mature animals
(Table 2) that were randomly selected from herds of cattle raising households. Data on qualitative
body form and quantitative characters were taken from a total of 40 mature bulls (as judged by
dentition) and 123 heifers and cows.
Table 2. Number of animals sampled and farmers interviewed by study site
Kebele
Animals subjected to
quantitative and qualitative
measurements
Farmers interviewed
Male
Female
Males
Females
Sheik Abduselam
14
60
12
-
Recilay
12
21
4
-
Kaho
8
25
6
-
Halago
6
17
11
3
40
123
33
3
Data collection methods
Individual interviews and focus group discussions
A total of 36 pastoralists were randomly selected and interviewed with structured questionnaires
during a formal survey. Three focus group discussions were then held, each having 810
pastoralists and extension agents. The focus group discussions and individual interviews addressed
topics related to breed origin and status.
Observations and linear body measurements
All quantitative and qualitative variables recorded in this study were adapted from the standard
cattle breed descriptor list of FAO (2012). A total of 26 qualitative traits were observed: horn
presence, horn condition, horn spacing, horn shape, horn orientation, coat colour pattern, coat
colour type, head colour type, muzzle colour, eyelid colour, hoof colour, ear shape, ear orientation,
hump shape, hump size, hump position, udder size, teat size, facial profile, back profile, rump
profile, testes size, tail length, naval flap width, preputial sheath, and dewlap width. Similarly, the
9 quantitative traits that were measured on adult animals included: body length, heart girth, height
at wither, pelvic width, mouth circumference, ear length, horn length, cannon bone length and
hock circumference. Measurements were taken early in the morning using textile measuring tape
to the nearest unit centimetre.
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Data management and statistical analysis
Quantitative data were entered, cleaned and managed using MS Excel© worksheet. Box plots,
scatter plots and tests of normality were done to check normality prior to analysis on SAS (2003).
The importance of each quantitative variable in explaining phenotypic differences between sample
cattle populations was examined and least squares mean of each variable was calculated using the
generalized linear model (GLM) procedure of SAS (2003). Pearson correlation coefficients were
also estimated for quantitative variables using the CORR procedure. Chi-square tests were
performed on qualitative data with SPSS (2011) to see their associations with sampling sites.
Information compiled from individual interviews with pastoralists using structured questionnaires
was summarized and synthesized to describe the origin and trend of the cattle population.
Results
Quantitative variation
The GLM procedure showed that all quantitative dependent variables other than ear length, horn
length and cannon bone length were significantly (P < 0.001) affected by sex of the animal (Table
3). As a result, mean values for quantitative variables were performed separately for the two sexes.
Table 3. Least square means + SE of quantitative body measurements (cm) for all sites by sex
Trait
Male
(N=37)
Female
(N=124)
Sex
BL
110.4 + 0.91
104.1 + 0.50
P<0.0001
HG
165.4 + 1.21
149.1 + 0.66
P<0.0001
HW
120.9 + 0.70
113.5 + 0.39
P<0.0001
PW
40.7 + 0.46
38.45 + 0.24
P<0.0001
MC
44.6 + 0.29
40.0 + 0.16
P<0.0001
EL
17.4 + 0.28
17.8 + 0.15
P=0.2382
HL
16.0 + 1.05
17.1 + 0.58
P=0.3400
CL
27.7 + 0.33
27.6 + 0.18
P=0.8745
HC
33.0 + 0.32
30.27 + 0.17
P<0.0001
BL=Body length, HG=Heart girth, HW=Height at withers, PW=Pelvic width, MC=Mouth circumference, EL=Ear length, HL=Horn
length, CL=Cannon bone length, HC=Hock circumference
Quantitative traits in the male sample populations
6
The phenotypic variation in male sample populations for all quantitative traits except ear length
and cannon bone length was not significantly (P < 0.05) affected by site (Table 4).
Table 4. Level of significance of main effects for quantitative variables and their associated R2 values for the male
sample population
Dependent variable
Mean values
Site
R2
CV
BL
110.43
P = 0.6718
0.23
6.13
HG
165.41
P = 0.3222
0.06
4.90
HW
120.89
P = 0.7041
0.02
4.47
PW
40.74
P = 0.1472
0.12
5.51
MC
44.57
P = 0.5207
0.04
4.99
EL
17.38
P < 0.0227
0.19
7.78
HL
16.0
P = 0. 7098
0.02
40.02
CL
27.70
P < 0.0001
0.41
5.84
HC
32.97
P = 0. 8291
0.01
5.82
BL=Body length, HG=Heart girth, HW=Height at withers, PW=Pelvic width, MC=Mouth circumference, EL=Ear length, HL=Horn
length, CL=Cannon bone length, HC=Hock circumference
Quantitative traits in the female sample population
Similar to the male sample populations, the phenotypic variation for all quantitative traits
excluding pelvic width and cannon bone length in females was not significantly (P < 0.05) affected
by site (Table 5) reflecting the homogeneity of cattle populations for most quantitative traits across
the three sampling districts in Jigjiga zone. Therefore it was found unnecessary to carryout
univariate and multivariate analyses by site on both sex groups.
Table 5. Level of significance of main effects for quantitative variables and their associated R2 values for the female
sample population
Dependent variable
Mean values
Site
R2
CV
BL
104.12
P = 0.0903
0.04
4.91
HG
148.98
P = 0.0736
0.04
4.66
HW
113.92
P = 0.4295
0.01
5.23
PW
38.42
P < 0.0001
0.20
6.41
MC
39.99
P = 0.6641
0.01
4.08
EL
17.95
P = 0.1009
0.04
15.43
HL
17.15
P = 0.3005
0.02
37.36
CL
27.64
P < 0.0001
0.25
6.43
HC
30.29
P = 0.2485
0.02
6.24
BL=Body length, HG=Heart girth, HW=Height at withers, PW=Pelvic width, MC=Mouth circumference, EL=Ear length, HL=Horn
length, CL=Cannon bone length, HC=Hock circumference
Table 6. Phenotypic correlation coefficient values (r) among body measurements in Ogaden cattle (n=156)
Trait
BL
HG
HW
PW
MC
EL
HL
CL
HG
0.54**
HW
0.50**
0.65**
7
PW
0.31**
0.54**
0.49**
MC
0.48**
0.67**
0.58**
0.43**
EL
-0.03
-0.03
0.08
-0.19*
-0.08
HL
0.04
-0.04
0.05
-0.18*
-0.04
0.04
CL
0.15
0.05
0.15
-0.31**
-0.01
0.44**
0.05
HC
0.42**
0.64**
0.48**
0.33**
0.61**
0.18*
0.02
0.18*
*P<0.05, **P<0.01; BL=Body length, HG=Heart girth, HW=Height at withers, PW=Pelvic width, MC=Mouth circumference,
EL=Ear length, HL=Horn length, CL=Cannon bone length, HC=Hock circumference
Phenotypic correlation coefficient values (r) among quantitative dependent variables measured on
both sexes are given in Table 6. There were significant positive correlations among most linear
measurements (P<0.01 and P<0.05). The highest values were found between MC and HG (r=0.67)
(P < 0.01) and HW and HG (r=0.65) (P < 0.01). The lowest value was observed between HL and
HC (r=0.18) (P < 0.05). There was highly significant negative correlation between PW and CL.
Qualitative variations
Table 7. Chi-square tests and levels of association of sites with the categorical variables
Variable
P-value
Phi coefficient
Cramer’s V
Contingency
coefficient
Horn condition
P<0.025
0.253
0.179
0.245
Horn spacing
P=0.383
0.111
0.111
0.110
Horn shape
P=0.047
0.195
0.195
0.192
Horn orientation
P=0.14
0.337
0.239
0.320
Colour pattern
P<0.045
0.276
0.195
0.266
Body colour
P<0.011
0.495
0.350
0.444
Head colour
P<0.040
0.424
0.299
0.390
Muzzle colour
P=0.546
0.095
0.095
0.095
Hump size
P=0.154
0.239
0.169
0.233
Hump position
P<0.005
0.249
0.249
0.242
Udder size
P<0.004
0.353
0.250
0.333
Teat size
P<0.004
0.350
0.248
0.331
Back profile
P<0.0001
0.334
0.334
0.317
Rump profile
P=0.128
0.210
0.149
0.206
Tail length
P=0.096
0.218
0.154
0.213
Naval flap width
P<0.018
0.305
0.216
0.292
Dewlap width
P<0.003
0.344
0.243
0.326
Testes size
P=0.274
0.385
0.272
0.359
Preputial sheath
P=0.105
0.504
0.356
0.450
The chi-square tests for back profile were highly significant (P<0.001), compared with test results
for coat colour pattern, body colour, head colour, hump position, udder size, teat size, naval flap
8
width and dewlap width that exhibited the presence of significant (P<0.05) association with site.
All other variables had no significant (P>0.05) association. Association for categorical variables
with sites was lowest for muzzle colour and highest for preputial sheath (Table 7).
Description of the cattle type
The population of cattle found in Jigjiga zone, referred to as a lowland zebu belonging to Small
East African cattle breed group is already known in literature as Ogaden. The cattle type is adapted
to hot climatic conditions of the Ogaden rangeland that extends into all the three zones of the
Somali Regional State. The altitude is ranges from 500 to 1700 m in Jigjiga zone. The dominant
livestock production system in the zone is agro-pastoralism with some transhumant and mixed-
crop livestock activity. The cattle are primarily kept for milk but other production functions include
draft, beef, reproduction and means of savings. The current population of cattle in Jigjiga zone
alone is 368,156 (CSA, 2013). Based on outcomes of the rapid and exploratory surveys that
included qualitative and quantitative measurements and results of the focus group discussions and
individual interviews, no other cattle breed type is identified in the study area. The current total
population of this lowland zebu distributed across the Ogaden rangeland is estimated to be about
500,000 and declining.
Table 8. Frequency of discrete variables in Ogaden cattle of sampled populations
Discrete variable
N
Per cent
Horn presence
Present
163
100.00
Horn condition
Horned
124
76.07
Scurs
38
23.31
Horn spacing
Narrow (<30cm)
83
50.92
Wide (>30cm)
80
49.08
Horn shape
Curved
89
54.6
Straight
74
45.4
Horn orientation
Upright
110
67.48
Forward
32
19.63
Lateral
11
6.75
Ear shape
Straight edged
162
100.00
Ear orientation
Lateral
163
100.00
Hump shape
Erect
163
100.00
Hump size
Small
125
76.69
9
Medium
9
5.52
Large
28
17.78
Hump position
Thoracic
155
95.09
Cervico-thoracic
8
4.91
Udder size
Small
80
65.04
Medium
36
29.27
Large
7
5.69
Teat size
Small
59
47.97
Medium
49
39.84
Large
15
12.20
Face profile
Flat
163
100.00
Back profile
Straight
149
91.41
Curved
14
8.59
Rump profile
Sloppy
87
53.37
Testes size
Small
18
50
Medium
14
38.89
Large
4
11.11
Tail length
Well below hocks (long)
124
76.07
Nearly below hocks (medium)
34
20.86
Naval flap width
Absent
75
60.98
Small
45
36.59
Preputial sheath
Absent
9
22.5
Small
21
52.5
Medium
8
20
Dewlap width
Small
75
46.88
Medium
70
43.75
Large
14
8.75
All Ogaden cattle sampled during the study had horns, straight edged ears with lateral orientation,
erect humps, flat face profile, and pigmented muzzles, eyelids and hooves. About half of them had
narrow (<30 cm) horns, small teats, small testes, sloppy rump profile, small preputial sheath, and
small dewlap width. Most of them had uniform body colour pattern and grey coat colour types
(Tables 8 and 9).
Table 9. Frequency of colour pattern and type in Ogaden cattle of sampled populations
Discrete variable
Number
Per cent
Body colour pattern
Uniform
120
73.62
10
Shaded
34
20.86
Pied
8
4.91
Body colour type
Grey
113
69.33
White
22
13.50
Red
10
6.13
Head colour
Grey
110
67.48
White
22
13.50
Muzzle colour
Pigmented
162
99.39
Eyelid colour
Pigmented
163
100.00
Hoof colour
Pigmented
163
100.00
Most discussants had a firm conviction that the indigenous cattle populations of Jigjiga zone share
common morphological features and have the same breed origin. The pastoralists also stated the
purity and population of the breed increases when one goes towards the southeast from Jigjiga
zone deep into the Ogaden rangeland while it reduces towards the west due to admixture with
indigenous cattle breeds in areas adjacent to Oromia Region.
Results of individual interviews with household heads revealed that raising Ogaden cattle in Jigjiga
zone is a longstanding tradition (Table 10). A large proportion of the inhabitants (47%) inherited
the breed from their parents. Most of the respondents (80.6%) asserted to have known the breed
even before 30 years and a significant number of them (66.7%) stated that they obtained the
animals in different ways from own districts. 55.6% of the interviewees disclosed the breed
population is showing a declining trend and 52.4% of them accounted the reduction in population
size to disease and drought challenges in the area.
Tables 10.Results of individual interviews on Ogaden cattle breed origin and status
Question
Farmers’ response (N=35)
Per cent
Source of breed
Inherited from parents
47.2
Purchased
19.4
Origin of breed
Own district
66.7
Neighbouring districts
30.6
Time of breed introduction
Before 30 years
80.6
Last 20 years
8.3
Trend of breed population
Decreasing
55.6
Increasing
27.8
Stable
11.1
Reason for declining trend
Disease and drought
52.4
11
Predator loss, high off-take, and
cactus indigestion
16.8
Sample pictures from Ogaden cattle are presented in Figures 1 to 3.
Figure 1. Ogaden breeding female
Figure 2. Ogaden breeding male
12
Figure 3. Ogaden breeding herd in its natural tract
Discussion
Cattle populations from the three sampling districts in Jigjiga zone did not vary significantly for
most quantitative traits. Preference of the agro-pastoralists for certain phenotypes such as white
and red coat colours when they select their breeding animals, the practice of keeping different
strains of Ogaden cattle by various Somali clans as was mentioned during the focus group
discussions, and the rich indigenous technical knowledge which values the existing germplasm
might have discouraged introduction of breeding animals from highland areas and contributed for
their homogeneity.
Variation in coat colour in cattle depends upon geographical and climatic features and is reinforced
by herder’s preferences (Saleem et al., 2013; Takele, Workneh and Hegde, 2011; Stewart, 1953).
The dominantly grey body colour type in uniform pattern in Ogaden cattle could be an adaptation
the arid and semi-arid ecologies in the Ogaden rangelands. Grey and white coat colour in Ogaden
cattle has an advantage in thermoregulation due to its lowered absorption of incident solar
radiation, which results in reduced heat loss. The absence of black colour in the sampling
population also agrees with the information generated from focus group discussions that confirmed
a practice of negative selection by pastoralists against this phenotype to minimize potential
interbreeding with the Hararghe highland zebu which the pastoralists considered to be inferior in
terms of milk production.
The higher values for HW and HG of Ogaden bulls sampled from on-farm herds (Table 11) of
Ogaden rangelands relative to other cattle breeds of Ethiopia are explained by Hall (1998) and
13
Mwacharo et al. (2006) who associated tallness and large body size with suitability for trekking
long distances to water and grazing points. Kugonza et al. (2011) also recorded significantly larger
body dimensions for Ankole cattle in a pastoral production system as compared with a crop-
livestock production system.
Table 11. Comparison of morphometric measurements (cm) of Ogaden cattle with other cattle breeds of Ethiopia
Breed group
Breed
Sex
HG
BL
HW
Source
Small East African
Zebu
Ogaden
(on-farm)
Cow
149.1+0.66
104.1+0.50
113.5+0.39
Present study
Bull
165.41+1.21
110.4+0.91
120.9+0.70
Present study
Ogaden
(on-station)
Cow
150.1 + 8.2
121.1+7.18
115.5+ 5.17
Getinet, 2005
Bull
148.2+ 14.31
120.4+ 7.27
115.5+ 7.71
Getinet, 2005
NA
Gojjam Highland
Cow
136.91+ 0.56
104.86+ 0.39
104.84 + 0.32
Fasil, 2006
Bull
150.54+1.22
112.82+0.9
109.91 +0.71
Fasil, 2006
Zenga
Foger
Cow
155.06+0.69
114.27+0.48
114.81+0.39
Fasil, 2006
Bull
158.08+1.17
113.74+0.86
118.98 + 0.67
Fasil, 2006
Humpless
Shorthorn
Sheko
Cow
136.5+7.51
110.2+6.34
99.4+4.95
Takele, 2005
Bull
141.2+9.21
114.6+7.51
103.6+5.98
Takele, 2005
Sanga
Afar-Sanga
Cow
147.91+1.42
126.04+1.39
115.43+1.05
Dereje, 2005
Bull
NA
NA
NA
HG=Heart girth, BL=Body length, HW=Height at withers
Conclusion
Results from the GLM procedure of SAS showed that all quantitative dependent variables other
than ear length, horn length and cannon bone length were significantly (P < 0.001) affected by sex
of the animal. The phenotypic variations in male and female sample populations for most
quantitative traits were not significantly (P<0.05) affected by site reflecting the homogeneity of
cattle populations for most quantitative traits across the three sampling districts in Jigjiga zone.
14
There were significant positive correlations among most linear measurements (P<0.05). The chi-
square tests for coat colour pattern, body colour, head colour, hump position, udder size, teat size,
naval flap width and dewlap width indicated the presence of significant (P<0.05) association with
site. Results of the statistical analyses confirmed findings of the focus group discussions that
indigenous cattle populations in the study area share common physical features and lived there for
generations.
Based on these results, the hypothesis that the Ogaden cattle populations of Jigjiga zone are
phenotypically heterogeneous is rejected. However, further genetic characterization needs to be
done to estimate the level of genetic distinctiveness of the breed from other indigenous cattle
breeds in Ethiopia and make decisions on sustainable utilization and conservation priorities.
Acknowledgements
This study was financed by the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI). Visited pastoralists kindly
allowed us to sample their cattle and warmly welcomed our interview. Respective District Office
of Agriculture staff facilitated the fieldwork and served as enumerators during individual
interviews. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers and journal editor(s) for their valuable
comments.
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