This report on Sustainable management of globally significant endemic ruminant livestock in West Africa: Estimate of livestock demographic parameters in Senegal was released by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in August 2012.
Authored by Maria Ejlertsen, Jane Poole and Karen Marshall, it describes the results of a 12-month survey to estimate livestock demographic parameters of endemic ruminant livestock (ERL) kept by smallholders in selected sites in Senegal. The demographic parameters estimated included natural rates, such as parturition, abortion and mortality rates, as well as management rates, such as off take and intake rates.
The key recommendations include:
- Interventions towards lowering the natural mortality. In the short to medium term (next few to 20 years) this should mainly be through changes to management practices. The results from the PROGEBE Senegal household survey suggest that the main areas of intervention should be in relation to diseases and feed resources. However, any scheme of interventions should be based on local conditions and further investigations are required in this regard. In the much longer term (20 to 50 years) it may be possible to reduce mortality by genetically improving the animals through a breeding program.
- Interventions to improve reproductive parameters should be prioritized, namely, age at first parturition, parturition interval and abortion rates. Again, this should mainly be through changes in management practices in the short-term, such as improved feeding, while in the longer term these parameters could potentially be improved through genetic improvement.
- Capacity building programs to improve awareness of traditional and alternate management and breeding practices and the effect these have on livestock production and productivity.
- A modelling study utilizing the demographic parameters estimated here, combined with other data from the household survey, livestock census and literature to determine the expected impact of potential PROGEBE interventions (such as improved health-care, feeding and/or animal genetic improvement) on livestock production over different time horizons.
The findings of this survey clearly indicate that N’Dama cattle, Djallonke sheep, and WAD goat are the prominent breeds in the PROGEBE-Senegal project areas and suggests that some level of controlled breeding seems to be applied in most herds/flocks, primarily through sire selection (although these may or may not be implemented with a specific breeding objective in mind). There seem to be a considerable scope for improvement of especially reproductive demographic parameters through improved herd/flock management in the short term, and breeding strategies in the long term.