Comparison of production systems and selection criteria of Ankole cattle by breeders in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

A survey in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda was conducted in order to determine the different production systems under which Ankole cattle are currently kept. Additionally, selection criteria of livestock keepers were documented. In Burundi, Rwanda and parts of Uganda, livestock keepers are sedentary and herds are small, whereas in the other areas Ankole cattle are kept in large herds, some of them still under a (semi-)nomadic system. Milk is the main product in all areas, and is partly for home consumption and partly for sale. Although the production systems vary in many aspects, the selection criteria for cows are similar. Productive traits such as milk yield, fertility and body size were ranked highly. For bulls, the trait 'growth' was ranked highly in all study areas. Phenotypic features (coat colour, horn shape and size) and ancestral information are more important in bulls than in cows. The only adaptive trait mentioned by livestock keepers was disease resistance. In areas of land scarcity (Burundi, Rwanda, western Uganda), a clear trend from pure Ankole cattle towards cross-bred animals can be observed.