Breeding practices of Red Maasai sheep in Maasai pastoralist communities
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Liljestrand, Josefina, 2012. Breeding practices of Red Maasai sheep in Maasai pastoralist communities . Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/32708
Internet URL: http://stud.epsilon.slu.se/4009/
A survey was undertaken to understand sheep management, breeding practices and selection criteria for Red Maasai sheep in Maasai pastoralist communities in Kajiado District, Kenya. Differences between North and South Kajiado District were investigated to gain knowledge about farmers having different prerequisites and how it can affect the sheep production. The reason for keeping sheep and the specific breeds show the multiple objectives of the Maasai farmers. Adaptive traits, such as resistance to diseases and droughts, and productive traits, such as increased growth and carcass weight, were both ranked highly. In addition to this, the sheep has a social and traditional value in Maasai culture. Although the Red Maasai sheep was ranked highly with regard to traits important for adaptation and social purposes, the population was considered to decline in numbers of pure bred Red Maasai. The breed was common in the whole district, but mostly used in crosses with Dorper in both North Kajiado and South Kajiado, whereas crosses with Blackhead Persian were more common to use in South than in North Kajiado. Most important reason for keeping sheep was food source, followed by source of cash income. When purchasing new sheep for the time being, the most important traits were body size (weight and height) and growth. Large differences in cultivation practices, herd size and herd productivity could be shown between North and South Kajiado. The differences were most likely caused by the different infrastructural and environmental conditions in the two locations. Challenges in the future, with unpredictable climate with recurrent droughts, may lead to larger demand of well adapted sheep. In this case, Red Maasai sheep would be an appropriate breed to better utilize.