Advances in Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research Article
Adv. Anim. Vet. Sci. 7(10): 848-857
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Solomon Goitom1,2, Mathew Gitau Gicheha2*, Kiplagat Ngeno3, Francis Kimani Njonge2

1Hamelmalo Agricultural College, Keren, Eritrea; 2Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya; 3Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya.

Abstract | Cattle production plays important socio-economic roles at household and national levels in Eritrea. The grazed cattle sector dominates the agricultural production occurring mainly in pastoral and agro-pastoral systems. Indigenous cattle breeds are almost exclusively reared in the two production systems. The breeds have notable physical differences but no scientific research has been carried out to determine the extent of the morphological diversity. We hypothesized that there exist morphological differences that can distinguish the indigenous cattle population (ICPs) into distinct groups using the guidelines on morphological characterisation of different livestock species provided by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). A total of 4617 data were collected for analysis. This included data from 13 morphometric and physical characteristics measurements from 243 head of indigenous cattle spread in 27 populations in the three agro ecological zones of Eritrea. The measurements were equally shared between production and reproduction traits. Homogenous groups were formed from cluster analysis based on single-linkage agglomerative hierarchical and non-overlapping (SAHN) technique while discriminant function analysis was performed to ascertain the accuracy of the classification. The Eritrean ICPs clustered around two groups. These were the Highland and East Coast cluster (Arado) and the Western lowland cluster (Barka). Individuals from cluster Arado had low mean linear measurements for the wither height (114.4±0.8), body length (111.75±2.1), and heart girth (134.65±0.9) than those in cluster Barka whose respective values were 125.3±0.6, 126.8±0.7, and 156.4±0.7. Analysis of the data obtained from this study indicated the existence of a wide variation in morphological characteristics within and between cattle populations reared in Eritrea. This information is useful in design of a breeding program that utilizes the available within and between breed variation in enhancing productivity and profitability of indigenous cattle populations in Eritrea.

Keywords | Eritrea, Barka, Arado, Classification, Morphometric