This study was conducted with the objectives of documenting the husbandry and breeding practices of Mursi and Bodi communities who keep Mursi cattle breed in the pastoral production system of southwest Ethiopia. The pastoral communities raise more number of cattle (54.27 heads) compared to goat (6.47) and sheep (1.24). Sale of cattle is the main income source, while sale of honey and goat ranked second and third. The main purpose of keeping cattle is for milk production and blood as source of food, sources of income and social functions. The number of milking cows was higher (P<0.001) in Mursi (10.22) than Bodi (6.02 heads) community herds. The proportion of milking cows on average was 45.02% of the total breeding females. The ratio of breeding male to female was 1:9.8. This ratio was bigger (P<0.05) in the Mursi (1:11.28) than Bodi (1:7.73) community. The pastoralists select breeding animals based on their trait preferences. The traits preferred were milk yield, adaptive ability, coat color and ability to survive and produce on low quantity and quality feeds. Breeding males were selected based on coat color, body size and fertility by both pastoral communities; whereas, female animals were selected on the bases of milk yield, coat color, fertility and udder size. Male cattle are castrated at the age of 4.17 years, which is different (P<0.01) between Bodi (3.58) and Mursi (4.59) communities. Indigenous husbandry and breeding practices would be used as a basis for designing and implementation of appropriate breed improvement programs.
Key words: Breeding practice, husbandry practice, Mursi cattle breed, pastoral production system, selection criteria, trait preference.
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