Crossbreeding has been used to improve milk production performance of local cattle in the tropics. Crossbreeding exploits additive and non-additive allele gene effects leading to improvements in lactation length, decrease in calving interval, higher milk yields and early age of calving of cows and potentially increasing producer incomes. Varying levels of success have been reported for various crossbreeding programmes and the objective of the current review was to document the key challenges, best practices, lessons learnt and to propose sustainable interventions for future initiatives. Although crossbreeding has had some impacts on smallholder dairy production in the tropics, a number of bottlenecks affect its smooth implementation including inadequate funding, inappropriate policies, low participation of farmers and genotype and environment mismatches. The availability of large base of adapted local cattle genetic resources, innovative state of the art breeding technologies and goodwill of governments to make favourable policies and increase budgetary allocations for the livestock sector offer some prospects for crossbreeding for a sustainable dairy industry. Provision of the required infrastructure for improved management of crossbred dairy cattle including feeding and health care, access to markets, training of stakeholders, a well-trained and motivated local extension service personnel are recommended to help achieve this objective.
Key words: Artificial insemination, genotype-environment interaction, local breeds.
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