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Trop Anim Health Prod. 2009 Mar;41(3):307-20. doi: 10.1007/s11250-008-9191-9. Epub 2008 Jun 27.

Analysis of production objectives and breeding practices of dairy goats in Kenya.

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Department of Animal Breeding in the Tropics and Sub-Tropics, Humboldt University of Berlin, Philippstrasse 13, 10115, Berlin, Germany.


Production objectives and breeding practices of smallholder households participating in dairy goat breeding projects were analysed in relation to their ability to bring about sustainable genetic improvement in the dairy goat flocks in Kenya. A stratified survey involving 311 goat keepers in 4 project sites was used. This employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to get a holistic view of dairy goats, and take into account the full array of contributions of dairy goats to the smallholder households. Milk production and sales of breeding stock were high priority functions for the objective to create a financial buffer. The breeding objective traits that farmers perceived as being of primary importance were milk yield, growth rate, body size, fertility and disease tolerance. There were logical trade-offs in the choice of these traits by farmers. Female dairy goats were mainly culled due to old age, poor fertility, small body size and poor health. Farmers did not place a large significance on unsatisfactory milk performance when culling female goats, mainly due to the very small production size and the high demand existing for breeding animals. Factors affecting milk yield and flock size presented satisfied a P<0.1 significance level. The performance levels of dairy goats were mainly influenced by breeding strategies and the resource availability at the farm level. The optimisation of genotype x environment interactions remains the biggest challenge given the objectives set by the farmer.

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