Adapting Selection Schemes for Indigenous Cattle Improvement in Sub-Saharan Africa-A Review


  •   Godfrey L. Chasama

  •   Jestina V. Katandukila

  •   Aloyce Hepelwa


Livestock keeping is an important livelihood option in the tropics and cattle play the major role. For sub-Saharan Africa, most of the cattle kept are of indigenous type exhibiting low to medium production coefficients. After realizing low impact with crossbreeding in improving their productivity during the first three quarters of the 20th century, many sub-Saharan Africa countries turned to adoption of selection schemes during the last quarter of the century. However, many countries still haven’t realized active operation of selection schemes for indigenous breeds improvement. Major constraints are unsustainable financing, weak coordination, inadequate policy support and weak technical foundation for animal breeding. Existing infrastructure networks are not supporting extensive operation of selective breeding. Systematized pedigree and performance data recording is lacking in many countries. Important guidelines for streamlining implementation of breeding operations among actors are not in place. Strategies for adapting selection schemes in sub-Saharan Africa should target exploitation of unique potentials of indigenous breeds and focus to the improvement of their productivity while also maintaining their adaptability. From the prevailing conditions, considering immediate transformation to farmer-operated central nuclei is not recommended in structuring the scheme. What is recommended is to start with dispersed village-based group pre-nuclei which are backed by institutional central nuclei. Important strategies in enabling effective operation with such structured schemes include evolving guidelines for implementing selection in terms of defining breeding objectives, increasing involvement of farmers, strengthening coordination of animal breeding, promoting inter-institutional collaboration, and considering some more government financial support.

Keywords: breeding challenges, breeding strategies, selective breeding, shorthorn zebu.


Oosting S. J., Udo H. M and Viet T. C. Development of livestock production in the tropics: farm and farmers’ perspectives. Animal. 2014; 8: 1238–1248.

Baltenweck I., Enahoro D., Frija A., and Tarawali S. Why is production of animal source foods important for economic development in Africa and Asia? Animal Frontiers. 2020; 10 (4): 22–29.

Ouedraogo D., Soudre A., Yougbare B., Ouedraogo-Kone S., Zoma-Traore B., Khayatzadeh N., et al. Genetic improvement of local cattle breeds in west Africa: a review of breeding programs sustainability. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4): 1–16.

Chasama G., and Tungu G. B. Socio-economic values and performance of zebu cattle indigenous in Ukerewe and Bunda Districts of Tanzania. HURIA. 2018, 24: 111–125.

Valle Zárate A., Musavaya K., and Schäfer C., (Eds.) Gene flow in animal genetic resources. A study on the status, impact, and trends. Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, Germany. FAO, 2006. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from

Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLF). Tanzania Livestock Sector Analysis. URT, 2017. Retrieved on December 6, 2022 from %2520SECTOR%2520ANALYSIS.pdf.

Reynolds L. P., Meghan C. W., Aron D. K., and Davis T., The importance of animals in agricultural sustainability and food security. Journal of Nutrition, 2015 145: 1377–1379.

Regmi A and Meade B. Demand side drivers of global food security. Global Food Security. 2013; 2: 166–171.

Ribeiro J. S., Goncalves T. M., Ladeira M. M., Campos F. R., Tulio R. R Neto, ORM, Oliveira, D. M., Bassi, M. S., residual feed intake and its effect on carcass and meat characteristics of feed-lot zebu cattle. Zootech, 2012 41(6). Retrieved in December 2022 from

Cardoso A. S., Barbero R. P., Romanzini E. P, Teobaldo R. W., Ongaratto F., Fernandes MHM, Ruggieri A. C and Reis R. A. Intensification: A Key Strategy to Achieve Great Animal and Environmental Beef Cattle Production Sustainability in Brachiaria Grasslands. Sustainability, 2020 12 (16): 6656; Retrieved on December 6 from

Wilson R. T. Crossbreeding Cattle in Africa. Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. 2018; 7: 16–31.

Taylor G. J. Factors affecting the production and reproduction performance of tropically adapted beef cattle in southern Africa. PhD Thesis Pretoria University. 2006.

Portes J. V, Gilberto R. O. M., MacNeil M. D, Luiz O. C, Gondo D. and Neto J. B. Selection indices for Nellore production systems in the Brazilian Cerrado. Livestock Science. 2020; 242: 104309, Retrieved on December 6 from

Zonabend E., Okeyo A. M., Ojango J. K., Hoffmann I, Moyo S., and Philipsson J. Infrastructure for sustainable use of animal genetic resources in southern and eastern Africa. Animal Genetic Resources. 2013; 53: 79-93.

Msanga Y. N, Mwakilembe P. L and Sendalo D. The indigenous cattle of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania: Distinct phenotypic features, performance and uses. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2012, 110 (24). Retrieved in December 2022 from

Lin G. Higher education research methodology-literature method. CCSE, 2009, 2(4):179–181.

Smith A. J. The tropical agriculturalists: beef. Macmillan education. Ltd., Oxford, UK, 2007.

Ojango J. M, Philipsson J., Malmfors B. and Okeyo A. M. Training the trainers-an innovative and successful model for capacity building in animal genetic resource utilization in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. ILRI-SLU, 2011 Retrieved on December 6 from

Kahi A. K, Rewe T. O and Kosgey I. S. Sustainable community-based organizations for the genetic improvement of livestock in developing countries. Outlook on Agriculture. 2005, 34(4): 261–270.

FAO. The state of capacities in animal genetic resources management. In The state of the world’s animal genetics resources for food and agriculture: structured breeding programs. FAO. 2007, Retrieved on December 6, 2022. from

Madalena F. E. Animal breeding and development-south american perspective. Animal Breeding and Genetics. 2002; 129:171–172.

Jeyaruban M. G and Rahman M. H. Selection and breeding of cattle in asia: strategies and criteria for improved breeding. International Atomic Energy Agency. 2009, Retrieved on December 6 from

ICAR. Development of animal identification and recording systems for developing countries. In Proceedings of the ICAR/FAO. 2004, Seminar held in Sousse Tunisia, 29 May 2004. Retrieved on December 6 from

Mwai O, Hanotte O, Kwon Y and Cho S. African indigenous cattle: unique genetic resource in a rapidly changing world. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science. 2015; 28 (7): 911–921.

Sölkner J, Nakimbugwe H and Valle-Zárate A. Analysis of determinants of success and failure of village breeding programs. In: Proceeding of the 6th World Congress of Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. 1998; 25: 273–280.

Kosgey I. S, Kahi A. K and Van Arendonk J. A. M. Evaluation of closed adult nucleus multiple ovulation and embryo transfer and conventional progeny testing breeding schemes for milk production in tropical crossbred cattle. Journal of Dairy Science. 2005; 88(4) 1582–1594.

Neidhardt R, Grell H, Schrecke W and H Jakob. Sustainable livestock farming in East Africa. Animal Research and Development. 1996, 44: 44–52.

Mpofu N. The importance of breeding infrastructure and support services. The success/failure of artificial insemination as a method of disseminating genetic material to smallholder dairy farmers in southern Africa. 2002. Retrieved on December 6 from

FAO. Breeding strategies for sustainable management of animal’s genetic resources. FAO Animal Production and Health Guidelines No. 3, 2010. Retrieved on December 6 from

Duguma G., Mirkena T., Haile A., Iñiguez L., Okeyo A. M., Tibbo M., Rischkowsky B., Sölkner J. and Wurzinger M. Participatory approaches to investigate breeding objectives of livestock keepers. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2010; 22:64 Retrieved on December 6 from

Tano K., Kamuanga M., Faminow M. D and Swallow B. Using conjoint analysis to estimate farmer’s preferences for cattle traits in West Africa. Ecological Economics. 2003; 45: 393–407.

Rewe T. O, Herold P., Kahi A. K and Zarate A. V. Breeding indigenous cattle genetic resources for beef production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture. 2009; 38: 317–326.

Renaudeau D., Collin A., Yahav S., De-Basilio V., Gourdine J. L and Collier R. J. Adaptation to hot climate and strategies to alleviate heat stress in livestock production. Animal. 2012; 6:707–728.

Goddard M. E. Consensus and debate in the definition of breeding objectives. Dairy Science. 1998; 81:6–18.

Abdul R. S, Samba P. T and Saidu K. Indigenous knowledge in cattle breeding in Sierra Leone. Bulletin of Animal Health and Production in Africa. 2015, 63 (4): Special Edition.

Bosso N. A. Genetic improvement of livestock in tsetse infested areas in West Africa. PhD Thesis 2006, University of Wageningen.

Kluyts J. F, Neser F. W. C. and Bredfield, M. J. Development of breeding objectives for beef cattle breeding: derivation of economic values. South African Journal of Animal Science. 2003; 33: 142–158.

Nicol. The place of permanent large scale breeding schemes in livestock improvement. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Sciences. 1976; 10:49–57.

Kasonta J. S. and Nitter G. Efficiency of nucleus breeding schemes in dual-purpose cattle of Tanzania. Animal Science. 1990; 50: 245–251.


How to Cite
Chasama, G. L., Katandukila, J. V., & Hepelwa, A. (2023). Adapting Selection Schemes for Indigenous Cattle Improvement in Sub-Saharan Africa-A Review. European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences, 5(1), 14–20.