News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tool for management of Ankole cattle presented at meeting of international livestock experts

A body condition scoring system developed for Uganda's native Ankole cattle was presented during the 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25-28 October 2010.

The standardized body condition scoring system was featured in a poster by Dr Ellen Dierenfeld, Senior Manager, Africa R&D and Manager, Sustainability Programs Research at Novus International, and  Dr Ben Lukuyu, an animal feed scientist with ILRI's Market Opportunities Theme.

Novus International, a global developer of animal health and nutrition programs, is partnering with ILRI and others in the East Africa Dairy Development project being undertaken in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Body condition of dairy cattle affects their feeding efficiency, milk production and reproductive performance. For this reason, the scoring of body condition is an important management tool that can greatly assist livestock farmers to better manage their herds, especially at critical life stages such as early lactation and calving.

The body scoring system for Ankole cattle was developed based on information obtained from farmer interviews, literature reviews and body condition charts developed for other breeds. Based on feedback and inputs from farmers, the system will be refined in future, if needed.

Dierenfeld ES and Lukuyu B. 2010. Development of a standardized body condition score for native cattle in Uganda. Poster presented at the 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture and the 18th Annual Meeting of the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25-28 October 2010.

International experts meet in Ethiopia to discuss strategies to improve efficiency of Africa’s livestock markets

Participants at the 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference Centre, 25-28 October 2010 (Photo: ILRI/Habtamu).

From 25 to 28 October 2010, leading international experts in animal agriculture gathered at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture.

The theme of the conference was Commercialization of livestock agriculture in Africa: Challenges and opportunities.

Dr Berhanu Gebremedhin, an agricultural economist with ILRI's Market Opportunities Theme, organized a special session on livestock trade and markets.

ILRI had four presentations during this session: one during the plenary session (given by Dr Gebremedhin and Dr Dirk Hoekstra) and three during the parallel sessions.

Dr Hoekstra is the manager of the project on Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers.

The following key messages emanated from the session on livestock trade and markets:
  • Livestock value chain actors can benefit from improved coordination around investment, incentives, production technologies, input supply and services, and grades and standards.
  • Political support and investment are needed to develop collective action of smallholder livestock keepers (cooperatives, associations, contract farming, and vertical integration).
  • In order to promote regional trade, market and trade policies need to be harmonized across countries.
  • Support for research and advisory services is needed  in the areas of genetic material, input supply and services, diseases of the poor, and market support services.
  • A targeted approach for public advisory services is needed to benefit women farmers in the livestock value chain.
  • Technology adoption in livestock production requires favourable feasibility and profitability factors.
  • Technology adoption and ownership of livestock assets are key determinants of household market participation.
  • The Kenyan experience in dairy development can provide valuable lessons to neighbouring countries.

You may view PowerPoint presentations from the conference at

Risk maps for bird flu in Africa: French version now available

A couple of months ago, this blog featured an output of the project on Early Detection, Reporting and Surveillance of Avian Influenza in Africa, namely, a report containing risks maps for bird flu in Africa that were developed using multi-criteria decision modelling.

An initial set of risk maps was prepared in 2009; these were refined to produce the final maps contained in the report.

The French version of the report is now available.

Download the French version

Stevens, K.B., Costard, S., Métras, R., Theuri, W., Hendrickx, S. and Pfeiffer, D.U. 2010. Amélioration de la surveillance de l’influenza aviaire de type H5N1 – Cartographie du risque d’influenza aviaire de type H5N1 en Afrique: Rapport final et cartes de risqué d’influenza aviaire. EDRSAIA (Early Detection, Reporting and Surveillance for Avian Influenza in Africa) project. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

New journal article: Field testing of tsetse repellent technology in Kenya

A newly published article in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine  (available online 25 October 2010) reports the findings of a 16-month-long field trial of a synthetic tsetse repellent technology among Maasai cattle keepers in Kenya.

Tsetse flies transmit trypanosomes, the protozoan agents that cause animal trypanosomosis, a cattle disease characterized by fever, weakness and anaemia which can, in cases of severe infection, lead to death of the animal.

Various methods used to manage animal trypanosomosis, such as tsetse fly control, trypanocidal drugs and trypanotolerant cattle breeds, have not been widely effective and sustainable, especially where the disease is endemic or where trypanocide resistance is high.

The Kenya study was the first to evaluate a tsetse-repellent device in the field under natural tsetse challenge. The trial pre-established the measure of effectiveness of the technology at a threshold of 50% reduction in trypanosome infection among all treated animals in the herd but the impact of the technology saw only 18% reduction in infection.

Based on this finding, the authors concluded that "the prototype repellent technology package was not sufficiently effective in reducing trypanosome infection incidence under natural tsetse challenge to merit commercial development".

The quest for a sustainable solution to the problem of animal trypanosomosis is not limited to the eastern Africa region. Scientists from ILRI's Market Opportunities Theme and research partners have also undertaken similar studies in West Africa's cotton zone where the disease is endemic and trypanocide resistance is high.

The findings of these studies have been highlighted in previous posts in this blog, namely, characterization of West African farmers' knowledge of cattle trypanosomosis, analysis of appropriate policies for management of trypanocide resistance in Mali and testing of integrated control strategies to reduce the risk of trypanocide resistance.

Read the abstract of the journal article here.

Bett B, Randolph TF, Irungu P, Nyamwaro SO, Kitala P, Gathuma J, Grace D, Vale G, Hargrove J and McDermott J. 2010. Field trial of a synthetic tsetse-repellent technology developed for the control of bovine trypanosomosis in Kenya. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 97(3-4): 220-227.