This study aimed at determination of structure and dynamics of Ankole cattle herds in 248 farms in Kiboga, Mbarara, Mpigi and Sembabule districts of Uganda and was conducted using a pre-tested questionnaire, administered during one-to-one interviews. Farms were randomly sampled along transects originating from the headquarters of the 19 sub-counties studied. Results showed that Ankole cattle provide livelihood support to all households, with 60.9% relying solely on them. Most farms kept a mix of livestock species and breeds, though 44.5% of farms kept pure Ankole herds. Acquisition of cows across the year was mainly through birth (41.5%), gifts (38.7%) and purchase (33.8%), though the number of cattle removed from the herds exceeded the annual acquisitions. Avenues of cattle exit included sales (39.1%), donations (35.5%), death (31.1%), theft (30.5%) and slaughter for home use (30.2%). Conservation of the Ankole breed should involve empowering households who still maintain pure herds. Such households could be given elite bulls through a ‘cow for a bull’ exchange with the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre which currently operates a nucleus herd at Nshaara ranch. To sustain the relevance of various traits and the breed itself, controlled crossbreeding should be promoted in high milk and meat demand areas.
Key words: Cattle breeding, structure, entry, exit, characterisation, conservation.
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