Conservation of indigenous cattle genetic resources in Southern Africa’s smallholder areas : turning threats into opportunities - A review
CITATION: Nyamushamba, G. B., et al. 2017. Conservation of indigenous cattle genetic resources in Southern Africa’s smallholder areas : turning threats into opportunities - A review. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 30(5):603-621, doi:10.5713/ajas.16.0024.
The original publication is available at https://www.ajas.info/journal
The current review focuses on characterization and conservation efforts vital for the development of breeding programmes for indigenous beef cattle genetic resources in Southern Africa. Indigenous African cattle breeds were identified and characterized using information from refereed journals, conference papers and research reports. Results of this current review reviewed that smallholder beef cattle production in Southern Africa is extensive and dominated by indigenous beef cattle strains adaptable to the local environment. The breeds include Nguni, Mashona, Tuli, Malawi Zebu, Bovino de Tete, Angoni, Landim, Barotse, Twsana and Ankole. These breeds have important functions ranging from provision of food and income to socio-economic, cultural and ecological roles. They also have adaptive traits ranging from drought tolerant, resistance to ticks and tick borne diseases, heat tolerance and resistance to trypanosomosis. Stakeholders in the conservation of beef cattle were also identified and they included farmers, national government, research institutes and universities as well as breeding companies and societies in Southern Africa. Research efforts made to evaluate threats and opportunities of indigenous beef cattle production systems, assess the contribution of indigenous cattle to household food security and income, genetically and phenotypically characterize and conserve indigenous breeds, and develop breeding programs for smallholder beef production are highlighted. Although smallholder beef cattle production in the smallholder farming systems contributes substantially to household food security and income, their productivity is hindered by several constraints that include high prevalence of diseases and parasites, limited feed availability and poor marketing. The majority of the African cattle populations remain largely uncharacterized although most of the indigenous cattle breeds have been identified.