Abstract— Dairy product is an important feed supplementation. However, rearing dairy cattle is became a challenge especially at smallholder level due to lack of indigenous dairy cattle breeds. As a result, the country has established cross breeding program since 1990`s. Nevertheless, it is not uniform and does not consider smallholder farmers. Therefore, this research initiated to identify the breeding practice and the main challenges of smallholder farmers in rearing dairy cattle. For this purpose, first systematic field survey was conducted to generate preliminary information and breed judgment. Then two study areas were selected purposively based on milk production potential and dairy breed characteristics. Two focus group discussions per study area were conducted. Then, randomly 200 respondents per study area were selected. Finally, individual interview and field observation were employed to generate the needed data. Even though there is no established breeding scheme, the smallholder farmers practiced breed improvement by either cross breeding or straight breeding. They implemented Cross breeding to improve milk productivity using 50-100% exotic blood sire/semen. Pure exotic semens were preferred for AI (Artificial insemination). The smallholder framers do not select indigenous caw for cross breeding practice. However, they selected indigenous caw/heifer for replacement based on pedigree history, body stature, and udder vein. Regarding mating system, more than 50% of the respondent exercise control-mating system in their herd. Mostly this was done by pertaining the sire and dam together for a single day. In addition to this partiality in preference of sire, less productive individual cattle culled from the herd by castration, sell and slaughtering. The management system, early castration and lack of accurate estrus detection were the major challenges in dairy cattle development. As the result of this survey in the two study areas, indiscriminate cross breeding without consideration of the production system, body size and blood levels were predominant. Therefore, successive training for smallholder farmers on breeding system is highly recommended.
Keywords— Milk, Breeding scheme, Cross breeding, Straight breeding.
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