Genetic preferences of smallholders and trypanotolerant cattle in southern Burkina Faso
This study investigates livestock owners preferences for cattle characteristics in southern Burkina Faso. The most important animal traits were identified using focus group interviews with cattle owners, recommendations from animal scientists and formal surveys. Preferences were assessed using ranking and rating schemes and conjoint analysis. Baoule, Zebu and Mere were the breeds of cattle raised in the area. Focus group interviews and recommendations from animal scientists provided seven traits of bulls and seven traits of cows. The most ranked traits for bulls were fitness to traction, disease resistance, selectivity in feed and temperament. The most highly ranked traits of cows were fecundity, milk yield and disease resistance. Producer survey data indicated three main production systems and various herd structures. Survey data also indicated that Baoule were preferred to Zebu and Mere only in disease resistance and grazing habits while Zebu were preferred to Baoule in several traits such as milk yield, size, fecundity, weight gain and traction ability. Assessment of farmers' preferences for Baoule showed that involvement in subsistence system, being an indigenous farmer and the fact that some farmers regarded Baoule as having an "overall desirability" relative to Zebu and Mere were significant determinants of the adoption of Baoule. Finally, conjoint analysis provides partworths for the levels of trait and the relative importance of the traits considered in the study. Disease resistance, good fitness to traction and high fertility were the most preferred traits of bulls while fecundity, disease resistance and feeding ease were the most important traits for cows. Weight gain and milk yield were less preferred. This study results indicate that the potential role for an effective genetic research for livestock development in the area needs to use a participatory approach so as to integrate farmers' preferences in the breeding program. The use of conjoint analysis can also help design more effective livestock breeding programs. The increasing adoption of Zebu may indicate the need for breed improvement schemes focussing on ways of adapting traits of Zebu by crossbreeding Zebu with trypanotolerant breed such as Baoule.