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The Diversity and Conservation Status Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources in Zambia

Joseph Mwenya

Department of Animal Science, University of Zambia

P.O. Box 32379 Lusaka, ZAMBIA.


Summary

Introduction

Cattle Genetic Resources

Production systems

Distribution and utility

Characterisation, documentation and conservation

Angoni Cattle Breed

Origin, location and adaptability

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Age at first calving

Conservation status

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

Barotse Cattle Breed

Origin, location and adaptability

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Age at first calving

Conservation status

Sources of breeding stock

Ideas about the future for the Barotse cattle

The Tonga cattle

Origin, location and distribution

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Age at first calving

Conservation status

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

Ideas about the future of the Tonga cattle

The Baila Cattle

Highlights of past breeding research work on indigenous cattle in Zambia

Beef production capacity of indigenous breeds

The Milking Capacity of Indigenous Cattle Of Zambia

Goat Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance of goats

Genetic Diversity

Origin, location and adaptability

Distinguishing feature

Utility

Conservation status

Source of breeding stock and germplasm

Ideas about the future of indigenous goats in Zambia

Sheep Genetic Resource

Socio-economic importance of sheep

Genetic Diversity

Origins, location and adaptability

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Conservation status

Source of breeding stock and germplasm

Ideas about the future of indigenous sheep in Zambia

Pig Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance

Genetic Diversity

Origins, locations and adaptability

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Conservation status

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

Ideas about the future of indigenous pigs

Poultry Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance of poultry

Genetic Diversity

Origins, location and adaptability

Distinguishing characteristics

Utility

Conservation status

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

Ideas about the future of indigenous poultry

Conclusion

Reference


Summary

The characteristics and extent of genetic diversity of livestock and poultry in Zambia is not fully known and documented. The identification, monitoring, characterisation and documentation of farm animal genetic resources have only been done on indigenous cattle. Work to characterise indigenous goats and sheep is currently being undertaken. The indigenous pigs and poultry have not yet been evaluated. In the absence of specific data on production characteristics of the indigenous livestock and poultry, their genetic potential cannot be fully appreciated. Of great concern is the fact that the genetic resources are being eroded through outcrossing and over harvesting. This has resulted in dilution or complete replacement of the indigenous livestock and poultry species by exotic genotypes. There is therefore an urgent need to characterize the indigenous genetic resources. This will enable us estimate the rate of loss of genetic diversity and to identify genetically unique populations for which appropriate conservation measures must be taken. This paper summarizes the characterisation, documentation and conservation programmes for indigenous cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens in Zambia in the pas and the present.

Introduction

Livestock and poultry production form an integral part of the agricultural activity of the smallholder farmers in Zambia. The 1999 estimates of livestock and poultry populations in Zambia were 2.5 million cattle, 1.5 million goats, 70,000 sheep, 400,000 pigs and about 40 million poultry (MAFF Annual Report, 1999). About 80% of the cattle are owned by the traditional farmers and are of indigenous types and their crosses. Nearly all goats are of indigenous types and are owned by the traditional smallholder farmers. About 64% of the national sheep flock are of the indigenous types and are found in the smallholder sector. Over 60% of the total poultry population are of indigenous type and owned by nearly all rural households. The chicken is the most common species. Other species owned are the common duck (Muscovy), Guinea fowls, Turkeys and Pigeons.

There is a general lack of information on the characteristics and extent of genetic diversity in almost all indigenous animal genetic resources in Zambia. This is due to the fact that limited research studies have been conducted to evaluate the production characteristics of our indigenous livestock and poultry. In the absence of specific data on production characteristics of the Zambian livestock and poultry, their genetic potential has not been well appreciated. This has led to the assumption that indigenous livestock and poultry are of low genetic potential. As a matter of fact, low genetic potential is often quoted as a major constraint to the production of meat, milk and eggs in Zambia. Consequently, most livestock and poultry improvement programmes have erroneously resorted to crossbreeding with imported exotic breeds of known genetic merit. As a result, indigenous animal genetic resources are threatened with dilution or complete replacement. Since indigenous breeds in Zambia are at risk of genetic erosion, sustainable livestock production cannot be guaranteed for our environment because of this continuous loss of the adaptive traits of the local genetic resources. To be able to estimate the extent and rate of loss of diversity, there is need to characterize the indigenous animal genetic resources that may still be existing. This will enable us identify genetically unique populations for further study and for which urgent conservation measures must be taken.

Cattle Genetic Resources

Distribution and utility of cattle genetic resources in Zambia

Production systems

Beef cattle production in Zambia is based on the use of extensive rangelands and a relatively low level of intensive feedlot production. The two major production systems are: a fenced ranch system with the feedlot being a subset of commercial ranching and the traditional husbandry system based on open communal rangelands.

Distribution and utility

The distribution of the Zambian indigenous cattle has been largely influenced by the result of the interaction of the climate, disease and vegetation. The 1000mm isohyet broadly divides the "cattle areas" from the "noncattle areas" in Zambia except for small concentrations of cattle in the Tsetse free areas of the Northern Province. However, indigenous and modern cattle breeds are now distributed through out the country (see figure 1).

Large-scale extensive privately owned ranches are mainly found in areas adjoining the railway route which stretches from Livingstone through Lusaka up to Copperbelt. Commercial beef production is based mainly on tropical exotic breeds such as Boran, Brahman and Sahiwal and the European breeds including Hereford, Sussex, South Devon, Charolais and Simmental.

The traditional cattle husbandry sector is largely confined to Southern, Western, Eastern and Central Provinces. Of the estimated 2 million communally grazed cattle, 43.13%, 22.69, 12.41% and 11.37% are found in the Southern, Western, Eastern and Central provinces, respectively. These are largely indigenous breeds namely, Angoni, Barotse and Tonga and their crosses with the tropical or European exotic breeds.

Characterisation, documentation and conservation

Angoni Cattle Breed

Origin, location and adaptability

The Angoni are short homed Zebu cattle found in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. According to Brownlee, (1977), the existence of the Angoni cattle dates back to AD 700 in Zululand (South Africa) as the Nguni breed. This breed survived through the 1800's of Shaka and Mzilikazi era who raided and moved these cattle across the Limpompo through Matebeleland and across the Zambezi rivers into Zambia. The Angoni cattle are closely related to the Malawi Zebu and the Mozambican and Zimbabwean Nguni. The Zambian Angoni are, however, larger than the other three types (Maule, 1990). In Zambia, the Angoni were originally kept by the Ngoni tribes in areas around Lundazi and Chipata in the Eastern Province. The Angoni contribute about 22% of the total indigenous cattle population (Challens, 1970). They are now widely distributed in the country but are generally confined to eastern, north-eastern

Figure 1. The distribution of cattle breeds

and central parts of the country. They are well adapted and are known for their ability to produce a calf every year under low input traditional husbandry systems.

Distinguishing characteristics

The Angoni have short and stout thorns which may be occasionally upright; the hump and dewlap are large and well developed in both sexes. The ears are of medium size. The hair is short and the skin is darkly pigmented. The coat colour of the Angoni cattle varies considerably and may be black, red, white and grey with mixtures to fawn and dun. The results of the work done at Mazabuka Research Station (Thorpe and Cruickshank, 1980) showed that the body mass of Angoni males (entire) at 4 years can reach 725kg, while that of castrated males averages 550kg and that of females averages 475kg.

Utility

The Angoni breed in its pure state is essentially a beef breed with enough milk for the suckling calf and for small consumption requirements at subsistence levels.

Age at first calving

The age at first calving was reported to be 36-42 months (Thorpe and Cruickshank, 1980) for the set of conditions at Mazabuka and Choma Research Stations.

Conservation status

The Angoni has been selected and improved in the last 30 years and is now registered as a breed by the Herd Book Society of Zambia. The commercial cattle farmers in Lusaka have formed an Angoni Breeders Association whose objective is to expand the Angoni germplasm in the country.

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

Pure Angoni cattle may be purchased from the commercial breeders and frozen semen is available at the Artificial Insemination (Al) Centre in Mazabuka. The only draw back is that Al is not widely used on beef cattle in Zambia.

Barotse Cattle Breed

Origin, location and adaptability

According to Letke-Entrup (1971), the Barotse cattle are said to have been existing in the area before the Makololo arrived into Barosteland during the 1800s. As such the Barotse cattle have greatly adapted to the flood plains of the Zambezi and Kafue rivers. The Barotse comprise about 25% of the total indigenous cattle population in Zambia (Challens, 1972). The Barotse is well adapted to produce beef under wet conditions of the flood plains.

Distinguishing characteristics

The Barotse, in its pure state, is a large framed animal with heavy bones and large spreading horns typically lyre shaped which can be 2.5m from tip to tip (Challens, 1972). The typical coat colours found on the Barotse cattle are black and brown ranging from fawn to grey and sometimes mixed with white (but never pure white). The most usual colours are brown, black and dark red. The ears are medium sized and the hump is small, almost absent in the female and is located in the neck and chest position. At Mazabuka Research Station, mature bulls and cows at the age of 4 years, reached 630 kg and 450kg respectively and the corresponding weights would be 580kg for bulls and 400kg for cows under smallholder husbandry systems. The dewlap is moderately developed especially in the male.

Utility

The Barotse are essentially multiple purpose animals providing meat, milk manure and draught power.

Age at first calving

The results of the studies conducted by Thorpe and Cruickshank (1980) revealed that the earliest age at which Barotse cattle are able to give birth to a calf is 36 to 40 months.

Conservation status

The Barotse breed is well preserved because it is well confined to the flood plain areas where little or no commercial cattle ranching is practised and as such very little crossbreeding has taken place with exotic breeds. At the moment there are no interested commercial breeders for the Barotse cattle. A preservation herd has been maintained at Simulumbe Research Station in Mongu on the Zambezi flood plains.

Sources of breeding stock

Apart from the preservation herd at Simulumbe Research Station in Mongu, there are no commercial ranches where Barotse breeding stock may be purchased. However, frozen semen is available from the breeds' best bulls at the Al station in Mazabuka.

Ideas about the future for the Barotse cattle

The future plans are to undertake long-term selection and improvement programmes while keeping it intact for its adaptability to the conditions of the flood plains. The breed is extremely hardy and strong and acclimatized ideally to its flood plain environment. The long legs of this breed are believed to be an adaptation to the water logged conditions of the flood plains. The limited selection that has been conducted has proved that considerable improvement is possible in conformation.

The Tonga cattle

Origin, location and distribution

According to Brownlee (1977), the Tonga cattle are believed to have been there before the advent of Bantu migrations in Central Africa. The Tonga is a short horned Sanga, largely found in the southern region of Zambia between the Kafue and Zambezi rivers. The Tonga breed has undergone a lot of uncontrolled crossbreeding because of the concentration of commercial ranches in this region. The Tonga was estimated to contribute about 52% of the indigenous cattle population in Zambia, but these numbers have greatly declined in the last three decades due to indiscriminate crossing that has taken place between the Tonga and the exotic breeds.

Distinguishing characteristics

The Tonga is a short homed Sanga, very similar to the Mashona of Zimbabwe. Horns are shorter than the Barotse but longer than those of the Angoni. The hump is situated on the neck and chest. It is small in the male and may be missing in the female. The dewlap is moderately developed. The body is not deep and the legs are long. Results of the research conducted at Mochipapa Research Station show that mature weights for the Tonga breed are 560 kg for bulls and 360kg for cows at 4 years of age. Traditionally kept herds, however, reach only 500 kg for bulls and 300 kg for cows at 4 years.

Utility

The Tonga is essentially used as a multi-purpose animal supplying meat, milk, draught power and socio-cultural functions.

Age at first calving

The results of the limited studies reveal that Tonga cattle reach sexual maturity at 18 to 20 months and age at first calving ranging from 36 to 42 months.

Conservation status

The Tonga cattle breed has been greatly diluted or completely absorbed and replaced by the Borans from the Zebu cattle and Herefords from the European breeds due to the success of crossbreeds. The continuous out crossing of the Tonga cattle with exotic breeds along the railway route has resulted in the loss of their genetic diversity. This decline in genetic diversity, though unquantitified, may have contributed to the loss of tick tolerance in the Tonga cattle being experienced now.

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

There are no established breeders of the Tonga cattle in Zambia. A preservation herd of 100 cows was established in 1978 at Mochipapa Research Station. However, frozen semen from the breeds' best bulls is available at Mazabuka Research Station and the station has maintained a registry of these bulls.

Ideas about the future of the Tonga cattle

The breed is now under threatened status. The Tonga breed has proved to be a well adapted all-purpose breed for the smallholder farmers although there are no tangible programmes to resuscitate the breed. The Tonga cattle has lost its genetic diversity in the last 40 years due to localized outcrossing with exotic blood from commercial cattle ranches along the railway line and the type is now difficulty to regularize. Because of its affirmed worthiness under low level management, there is an urgent need to implement measures to preserve this breed.

The Baila Cattle

The Baila cattle, found in the areas around Mumbwa on the Kafue floodplains, are believed to be a variety of the Barotse cattle. The Baila cattle have not been evaluated at all. The proportion of the Baila cattle has not been well established, but it is believed to be slightly over 1% of the total indigenous population. The current thinking is that this breed needs characterization and evaluation to establish the level of risk in terms of extinction.

Highlights of past breeding research work on indigenous cattle in Zambia

Beef production capacity of indigenous breeds

Animal breeding and management research has been carried out in Zambia since 1940s (Kaluba, 1993) and was mostly conducted at the Government research stations in Mazabuka, Mochipapa (Choma) and Simulumbe (Mongu).

Results from studies showed that the three indigenous breeds of cattle (Angoni, Barotse and Tonga) have superior reproductive performance compared to exotic breeds under low-level management (Walker, 1953). They had higher calving percentages, shorter calving intervals and lower mortality. The Angoni cattle had the highest calving percentages compared to the Barotse and Tonga. The superior reproductive performance of the Angoni was also confirmed by results from Addy and King (1969) and Thorpe et al. (1979) who had shown that the Angoni had the highest killing out percentage among the indigenous breeds in addition to the other parameters considered above. The superior performance of the Angoni for meat and calving percentage was also reported by Walker (1962; 1964), Kaluba (1984) and Malik (1984).

In the other studies conducted by Thorpe et al. (1979) at Mazabuka, the Boran produced heavier carcasses among the pure breeds; and crosses of indigenous cattle with Hereford and Friesian produced heavier live and carcass weights than their corresponding pure-breds. In terms of weaner weight per cow unit, Addy and King (1969) reported that the Angoni produced more weaner weight than the Afrikander and Hereford.

Studies on genetic and environmental factors affecting beef production were carried out at Mochipapa by Thorpe et al. (1979). The results of these studies showed that year had an important influence on calving and weaning percentages in Angoni, Barotse and Boran dam breeds. Dam age and status did not influence calf weights, which were positively correlated with dam weight change during lactation.

The recommendations from these results are that indigenous cattle should be included in commercial meat production. The Angoni cattle have been registered by the Herd Book Society of Zambia as an established breed.

Table 1: Indigenous cattle breed evaluation in Zambia (1967 to 1980

Character

 

Angoni

Barotse

Tonga

Boran

Production data

         

Total number of dam

records

 

675

731

773

814

Calving, %

 

82.5

78.1

74.4

75.4

Calf mortality, %

 

2.7

5.3

4.6

8.3

Calf birth weight, kg

 

22.9

25.7

19.8

25.2

Weaning, %

 

80.3

74.0

70.2

69.2

Calf weaning weight, kg

 

147.3

167.0

140.8

169.5

Weight of weaned calf/

cow/year

 

116.0

121.0

110.0

119.0

Weight of weaned calf per

100kg dam per year

 

34.6

31.6

30.2

31.8

Carcass data

         

Weight at 18 months,

    1967

208.7

235.0

200.0

234.3

 

    1969

202.5

216.0

195.0

223.8

Weight at 3 years,

    1967

238.3

255.3

210.0

270.7

Weight at 3.5 years

    1969

328.0

367.5

322.8

375.4

Live weight at slaughter,

kg

 

336.0

360.8

300.0

370.1

Carcass weight, kg

 

182.4

185.5

145.7

200.4

Killing out, %

 

54.3

51.5

48.5

54.2

Fat % in carcass

 

19.4

12.7

13.4

18.6

Lean % in carcass

 

62.6

65.7

68.4

63.0

Bone % in carcass

 

18.0

21.6

18.2

18. 5

Kaluba (1984) and Maule (1990)

The Milking Capacity of Indigenous Cattle Of Zambia

According to the Agricultural Research Report of 1963 (Walker, 1964), the work to evaluate the milking capacity of indigenous cattle of Zambia commenced in 1948. Three indigenous breeds (the Angoni, Barotse and Tonga) and Zebu from Lundazi (probably the Malawi Zebu) were used in the study. A summary of the analysis of 15 years milking records is presented below in Table 2.

The end of lactation period was considered to be at a point where the daily yield was less than 200 ml. From the results indicated above, the Tonga showed the poorest lactation performance (850 litres per lactation) among the indigenous breeds of Zambia and had the lowest maximum daily yield (3.2 litres).

Their lactation curve is generally similar to that of any daily breed of Bos taurus, rising to a 12 weeks peak and then falling off gradually to 18 weeks, tailing more sharply to 26 weeks after which the fall is gradual. However, the lactation curve has a prolonged tail of low milk production, which is virtually useless from the point of view of market-oriented milk production and indeed in raising the calf.

Table 2: Milking capacity of the indigenous cattle breeds of Zambia

Breed

Number of Cattle

Lactation Days

Total Yield (litres)

Mean Maximum Daily Yield (litres)

Angoni

501

294 ± 23

990 ± 16

4.29 ± 0.5

Barotse

467

305 ± 29

1160 ± 25

4.96 ± 0.7

Tonga

600

295 ± 30

850 ± 12

3.24 ± 0.3

Lundazi

304

310 ± 38

1290 ± 19

5.29 ± 0.5

Zebu

       

The herds used in this study were run for 8 years as dairy herds with all year round calving and hand service at ±7 weeks after parturition. In the dry season, supplementation was practised on yield basis. For the remaining 7 years, calving was regulated to two 6-week periods, September to October, and December to January and no supplementation was practised. The yield figures and variations were identical over the two periods and the lactation pattern did not show the grass flush upsurge typical of Bos taurus and upon which all advice of seasonal calving is based.

The following conclusions were made from the indigenous breed evaluations for milk yield:-

The result of the milking capacity of the indigenous cattle suggested that there was a possibility of increasing the milk productivity by crossbreeding with temperate dairy breeds. To prove this, a trial, involving 40 Friesian-Angoni and 48 Friesian-Barotse cows was conducted over a period of 10 years starting in 1977 to 1988. The cows calved from October to January and were hand milked once a day with a calf at foot until August, when the calves were weaned and the cows dried off. The calves were running with their mothers during the day and penned separately at night, as practised under the smallholder husbandry system. The cows were grazed on unimproved veldt throughout the year. Limited amounts of maize stover were available from June to the end of October. During lactation the cows were fed 2 kg of snapped corn at milking time for easier handling while milking.

A summary of the milk and weaner production averaged over 8 lactation records for each cow is presented in Table 3 below:

Table 3. Summaries of evaluation of milk and weaner production of Friesian cross Angoni and Barotse

Parameter

Friesian/Angoni

Friesian/Barotse

Number of cows

40

48

Average total yield, litres

1100

1420

Average number days in lactation

246

248

Average Daily milk yield, litres

4.4

5.8

Average annual weight of weaner, kg

150

154

Average weight of cow at weaning, kg

344

377

(Wt of weaner)/Wt of cow at weaning), %

44

41

Kaluba (unpublished)

Goat Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance of goats

In Zambia, the majority of goats kept are of indigenous types and are mostly kept by the smallholder farmers. Goats provide their owners with a range of products including milk, meat, skins, manure and may be readily converted into cash and are well integrated into the existing farming systems. Aside from the seasonal demand for goats, i.e. religious rites and parties, goat meat is gaining general acceptance as a regular menu in homes and restaurants in Zambia. While goats represent a critical resource for the provision of income and nutrition to the smallholder farmers, they have not been fully appreciated by policy makers, Non-governmental Organizations and other development agents. As a result, limited research studies have been conducted on our indigenous goats. In the absence of specific data on the production characteristics of the Zambian goats their genetic potential have not been well documented and appreciated.

Against this background, therefore, baseline data on indigenous goats are urgently needed, as they are fundamental for sound planning and development of future breeding, conservation and production policies.

Genetic Diversity

Origin, location and adaptability

A review of existing information concerning goats is presented with some difficulty. According to the literature available, the goats found in Zambia today is believed to have been acquired from the present day Zimbabwe from the Matebele and Shona kingdoms. The numbers in the national flocks are not well known. The national goat- herd is widely distributed in the country but is largely confined to the drier areas such as Gwembe and Luangwa valleys. There are many indigenous goat types in Zambia. A few exotic types, largely the Boer goat, are kept.

Distinguishing feature

In addition to the internationally established classification criteria, the indigenous goat types in Zambia are further described by the locality within which they are found. For instance in the Southern half of the country, three different types have been identified (Chisanga and Mwenya, 1998). These are:

  1. The South East African Dwarf Goat type, which is referred to as the Gwembe goat and is mainly found in the Gwembe valley.

  2. In most of the southern half of the country and the northern parts of the Zambezi escarpment and Luangwa valley, is found a larger goat generally referred to as the Valley goat.

  3. On the plateau areas is found an intermediate sized goat type referred to as the plateau goat. The plateau type of goat appears to be widely distributed in the country.

Colours vary from, black, brown and roan with or without white markings. The goats are short with fine and glossy coats.

Utility

The indigenous goat is kept for provision of meat and income. Use of and preference for goat milk varies widely between communities and to a large extent depends on the availability of cows' milk.

Conservation status

Genetic viability in terms of response to selection among indigenous goats needs determination. Some work has been conducted on goats born from the assembled flocks of the three types of indigenous goats at Mochipapa Research Station (Choma). Records of all births were maintained and the unpublished data collected over a period of 4 years is indicated in Table 4.

Source of breeding stock and germplasm

Since there are no established breeds yet, the breeding stock may be acquired from the village flocks. Imported germplasm, mainly from South Africa, has been introduced on government and commercial private ranches. No preserved semen is available.

Ideas about the future of indigenous goats in Zambia

The goat is an important resource for smallholder farmers because of its wide distribution and adaptability. There is a strong feeling now that goat rearing should be promoted as part of the poverty alleviation programmes. However, such development efforts will need to be backed by full characterization and evaluation of the indigenous goats so that only those found with traits for higher productivity and adaptation may be promoted.

Sheep Genetic Resource

Socio-economic importance of sheep

The smallholder farmers own about 64% of Zambia's 70,000 sheep. These are mainly fat-and thin-tailed indigenous types. Sheep farming is quite popular among large-scale commercial farmers in Zambia. However, the breeds of sheep found among large-scale commercial farmers are the improved exotic breeds namely, the Blackhead Persian, Dorset Horn, Dorper and Sulfok, which are not well adapted to the local conditions.

Table4: Some performance traits of the indigenous goats of Zambia

Parameters

Gwembe Type Goats

Valley Type Goats

Plateau type Goats

Mature body weights, kg

     

- Male

30-36

48-50

34-36

- Female

18-25

32-46

25-30

Age at first kidding(months)

15-18

20-22

18-20

Fertility rate, percentage

88.8

86.4

87.5

Kidding rate, percentage

110

98.8

105

Prolificacy

1.4

1.1

1.2

Kid birth weight, kg

1.5

1.8

1.6

Kid weaning weight (at 6 weeks), kg

-

-

-

Weaning rate

55

50

52

Preweaning mortality, percentage

48

50

42

Growth rate (from birth to weaning g/day)

-

-

-

Dressing percentage 12 months of age

42.8

42.3

40.2

Chisanga and Mwenya (Unpublished)

Although the population of indigenous sheep in the country is small, it offers tremendous potential for exploitation as income and food resource for the smallholder farmers in the agriculturally marginal areas. A major handicap is the lack of biological information on indigenous sheep on which to base genetic improvement and management strategies.

Genetic Diversity

Origins, location and adaptability

Little is known about the origin of indigenous sheep of Zambia, but they are believed to have descended from the Hotentots and East African breeds. The indigenous sheep in Zambia are mainly confined to the south, north and eastern part of the country.

Distinguishing characteristics

The fat-tailed indigenous sheep have a smooth hairy coat type. The colours for the fat-tailed sheep range from brown to black although all shades are of brown to pure white. The thin-tailed sheep types also have smooth hairy coats too with similar colour patterns as those found in the fat-tailed.

Utility

The main reason why sheep are kept in Zambia is the production of meat. Mutton is highly priced compared to beef, goats and chicken in Zambia. Another function of sheep is income generation.

Conservation status

The extent of the indigenous sheep diversity in Zambia is unknown. Although the indigenous sheep population is small, it is likely that they have not reached endangered status. A preservation flock of 100 ewes has been established at the Mochipapa Research Station.

Source of breeding stock and germplasm

Indigenous sheep may be acquired from the village flocks. In 1969 the Government had established a National Stud Farm of Dorper and Blackhead Persian breeds near Lusaka to supply breeding stock to smallholder farmers. However, due to heavy mortality rates and lack of expert management the farm was abandoned in 1977. As a follow up to this programme proposal, a ranch of indigenous sheep was drafted in 1985 but has since not been implemented. The established breeds of sheep may be purchased from the privately owned commercial sheep ranches. Commercial sheep production started in 1979 (Productive Farming, 1983). The Dorper is the most common breed, because it has good characteristics such as long breeding season, high milk yield in the ewe and a good carcass quality (Productive Farming, 1983).

Ideas about the future of indigenous sheep in Zambia

Sheep farming in Zambia is regarded as a domain for the commercial farmers and as such the promotion of sheep farming at smallholder level receives very little attention. The indigenous sheep could greatly contribute to the well being of smallholder farmers and as such, there is an urgent need to fully characterize this genetic resource. Limited work to characterize and evaluate the indigenous sheep commenced in 1998 on a flock that was assembled at the Mochipapa Research Station with funds from ILRI. Data on physical characteristics such as coat colour and hair type ear shapes and type, facial profile and presence or absence of horns are being recorded. The biological characteristics being recorded include age at puberty and parturition, birth weights, carcass yield and quality, growth rates, whither heights and body lengths.

Pig Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance

The indigenous pigs are relatively unimportant in some parts of Zambia except for the Eastern Province where they greatly contribute to the household food security as sources of meat and income.

Genetic Diversity

Origins, locations and adaptability

According to King (1991), the origins of most indigenous pig populations are obscure. King (1991) further states that available archaeological records show that the domesticated pig had an ancient history of Egypt but for unknown reasons were abandoned, and are now widely distributed south of the Sahara. The indigenous pigs are not widely distributed in Zambia and are largely confined to the eastern part of the country. These pigs are better adapted to extensive out door conditions.

Distinguishing characteristics

All indigenous pigs are comparatively small in body size and have low growth rates, with modest litter sizes and high fat carcasses. The indigenous pigs have little hair on their skin.

Utility

Smallholder farmers keep these small pigs for meat and income generation.

Conservation status

There is little information on the genetic diversity of indigenous pigs in Zambia. There is need to generate information on their productivity and adaptability to the local environment.

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

There is no established source of breeding stock except for the smallholder farmers who keep exchanging the same germplasm among themselves.

Ideas about the future of indigenous pigs

The role of the indigenous pigs in the provision of meat and income at smallholder household level is well appreciated. There is need to characterize and evaluate these indigenous pigs and develop breeds suitable for areas where they are commonly found.

Poultry Genetic Resources

Socio-economic importance of poultry

Poultry production constitutes to be a very important agricultural activity at household level in Zambia. The common poultry species found in Zambia are chickens, ducks, guinea fowls, pigeons and turkeys. Their widespread distribution in the villages demonstrates the importance of these small and easily managed household animals. The small farmers derive good income from the sale of local poultry especially the indigenous chickens.

Under the village husbandry practices, the indigenous chickens, ducks, guinea fowls and turkeys hatch their own brood, scavenge for the major part of their feed and are unprotected against the predators and endemic diseases. Pigeons forage widely, but return to their nest houses in homesteads for shelter. There is lack of information in areas of poultry production that would specifically benefit the small farmers under the smallholder husbandry systems. The discussion on local poultry has been confined to chickens because of their socio-economic importance compared to other species.

Genetic Diversity

Origins, location and adaptability

Little is known about the origin of chickens in Zambia. According to Sauer (1969), chickens were already present in Africa at the time of the first contact with Europeans. The most likely origin of indigenous chickens currently found in Zambia could be India. The indigenous chickens in Zambia closely resemble those found in Mozambique and since the Mozambican chickens greatly resemble the Indian type, the Zambian indigenous chickens could likely have similar origins with their Mozambican counterparts. The indigenous chickens are widely distributed among the three Agro-ecological zones in Zambia. They are well known for their wide adaptability and hardiness.

Distinguishing characteristics

There are three classes of body types that have been observed among the indigenous chickens in Zambia. These are, the dwarf, medium and the heavy. The dwarf types are mainly confined to the valley areas. Some of the races that have been observed include the spotted, naked neck and Frizzle feathered chickens. However the frequency of these genotypes has not been established. Plumage colour of the indigenous chickens is quite variable and ranges from pure black, white, Silver white, grey, gold and a variation of several colour combinations.

Utility

One of the peculiarities of the crop-livestock farming systems of Zambia is the virtual dependence on the indigenous poultry for meat and eggs. Smallholder farmers also derive good income from sales of chickens and eggs.

Conservation status

In Zambia there is little information on the genetic diversity of the indigenous chicken population. There is need to generate information on their productivity and adaptability to the various environmental conditions.

Sources of breeding stock and germplasm

There are no established sources of indigenous breeding stock. The improved poultry breeders purchase their parent stock form Europe and North America.

Ideas about the future of indigenous poultry

The indigenous chickens have economic and socio-cultural advantages and there is therefore an urgent need to identify and characterize them, including other local poultry genetic resources (ducks, guinea fowls and pigeons).

These studies will focus on biological and phenotypic characteristics. Data on phenotypic characteristics should focus on plumage colour and type, comb types and shank lengths and shank types.

The data on biological characteristics should include:

Conclusion

From the foregoing it is clear that urgent measures to characterize and document the animal genetic resources should be undertaken without delay as this would be the basis for the development of the animal industry in Zambia. A great deal needs to be done in this regard in Zambia to be able to properly monitor which of the animal genetic resources are at risk of erosion or replacement and extinction.

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