Studies to characterize goat production system and identify breeding practices and trait preferences of goat keepers were conducted in three districts (Sheko, Shey Bench and Meanit Shasha) of Bench Maji zone, southwestern Ethiopia. Semi-structured questionnaires and own-flock ranking experiments were employed for data collection. The results of the analyses revealed that the average goat flock size was 9.8±9.3. The flock structure constituted females (42.7%), intact males (19.0%), castrates (1.9%) and kids of both sex (36.5%). Goat production was rated highest for income and then as source of meat, with lowest rating as a means of saving. Most of respondents practiced selection for breeding does than bucks. Mating was predominantly uncontrolled. Twinning ability (I=0.29) for female and body size (I= 0.35) for male were the most highly rated traits at own flock ranking. The goat production system in Sheko and Shey Bench districts was characterized by mixed crop-livestock, while in Meanit Shasha, agro-pastoralism was dominant. Thus, the breeding objectives of the communities are to improve meat production and increase income through increased number of goat flocks.
Key words: Agro-pastoralism, breeding objectives, breeding practices, mixed crop-livestock.
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