Livestock Research for Rural Development 31 (10) 2019 LRRD Misssion Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Comparative performance of pure local, cross Boer-Abergelle F1 and F2 goats in selected Weredas in the central zone of Tigray

Mearg Fitsum, Bahlibi Weldegebriall, Bruh Weldemariam, Berhanu Haile, Destalem G/michael, Berhe Teklay, Tsigab Nirayo and Amanuel Kidane

Tigray Agricultural Research institute Axum Agricultural Research Center, P O Box 230, Axum, Tigray


The study was conducted in two agro-ecologies - lowland and midland represented by M/leke districts and N/adet district, respectively - with the aims of comparing the productive and reproductive performance of crossbreeds of Boar goat and local goat under traditional management systems. F1 crossbreds of Boar with local goat were compared with native goats in 20 households. The genotypes used in the study included 50% Boer (Abergelle x Boer), 25% Boer (50% Boer x 100%local) and local. Data were analyzed using statistical software in SAS (2002) and SPSS version16.0. Means were compared using the Duncan test. Growth rates of kids were best when the sire breed was 100% Boer and the dams were 50% Boer:50% local. Using F1 sires (Boer:local) on local dams gave better growth of the offspring compared with kids of 100% local breed, In conclusion, crossbreeding using 50% Boer males is a good strategy for upgrading the body weight potential of indigenous goats under farmers’ management condition.

Keywords: adult weight, crossbreeding, genotypes, weaning weight


Goats have a unique niche in small holder agriculture since they require small investments; have shorter production cycles, and greater environmental adaptability as compared to large ruminants. They are important protein sources in the diets of the poor and help to provide extra income and support survival for many farmers in the tropics and subtropics (FAO 2002).

Special features of goats among the livestock species are small body size, less space requirement, low feed requirement, browsing habit and fast turnover makes them widely acceptable species in tropical harsh climatic condition (Peacock 2005).

The total population of goat in Ethiopia is estimated as 30.2 million of which 99.7% are indigenous goat breeds (CSA 2017). About 15% (4.5 million) of the total goat population of Ethiopia are found in the regional government of Tigray (CSA 2017).

The description of goat production systems in Ethiopia emphasizes their contribution of the indigenous goat to the total household revenue (Solomon et al 2010). The estimated contribution of the goat population in Ethiopia accounts for 16.8% of the total ruminant meat outputs, which plays a great role as a source of foreign currency (Ameha 2008).

Despite he large population of goats and the role of goats at household and national level, the productivity and the contribution of goats to the country’s economy is far below the potential. The domestic consumption of meat from goats is estimated to be of the order 62 thousand tonnes (Adane and Girma 2008).

The productivity of local goats in smallholder production systems is low. This is because of many constraints, among which scarcity of feed, slow growth rate, and high percentage of mortality has been reported to be the major limiting factors (Tibbo 2006).

There have been a few attempts at genetic improvement program of goats through upgrading with exotic breeds. Crossbreeding is an easy way to get very productive goats within a short period of time. It is also the easiest way to acquire superior stock from elsewhere. In contrast, breed improvement through selection is a slow process (Shumuye et al 2014)

To improve the existing indigenous goat productivity, many attempts have been made. However, the cross-breeding efforts that were conducted did not bring a significant change mainly because of sustainability problem and limited involvement of the producers in the program. Recently, an effort has been going on to improve the indigenous breed of goat through cross breeding. The Ethiopian sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program (ESGPIP) launched a cross breeding program of indigenous goat with the Boar beed with the aim of improving goat productivity in Ethiopia and to contribute to the enhanced economic development and food security in the country. Boer goats originate from the semi-arid regions of South Africa and they were developed through selection for high growth rate within the existing local populations (Casey and Niekerk Van 1988; Erasmus 2000; Malan 2000).There has been widespread use of Boer goat germ plasm in different parts of the world. The interest of meat goat producers in Boer goats is due to claims that they are fast growers, hardy and adaptable, resistant to diseases, fertile and produce meat of high quality (Casey and Van Niekerk 1988; Erasmus 2000; Malan 2000).

The local Abergelle goat breed is kept mainly for meat production. In addition to this, these goats are also kept for manure production, cash income and skin production. They have an important contribution in improving the household nutrition. When Abergelle goat breeds are compared with Boer goat breeds, there are great differences in body weight and growth rate. As a result, crossing of Abergelle goats with Boer goats is becoming an important method to improve meat productivity of indigenous goat breeds. The crossbred (F1) can get important traits from their parents that enable them to better resist disease and harsh environments (Shumuye et al 2014). The present study was conducted with the objective of comparing:

The productive and reproductive performance of the adapted crossbreeds of Boar goat and pure local goat under traditional management system

To introduce crossbred Boar goats (F1) so as to compare them with native breeds.

Materials and methods

Description of the study area

Two districts in the central zone of Tigray regional state were selected representing two agro-ecologies, namely lowland represented by M/leke districts and mid altitude by N/adet district. The climate is hot and dry and receives mean annual rainfall of 800 to 1199 mm that is variable a from year to year. The mean annual temperature is between 150 and 260C and the soil type is light and sandy.

Site and farmer selection

Based on goat population density one representative Kebele from each Wereda was selected in collaboration with Wereda bureau agricultural advisers, development agents and farmers. Orientation about the objectives and goals of the study were given to get willingness to implement the project. The selection criteria among willing farmers were based on their potential in goat production, having five or more local goats, willingness to cull or castrate their local buck and willing to share their crossbred Boar sire to other neighborhoods. Finally, across the two study districts (M/Leke and N/Adet) a total of 20 households (10 farmers per disrict) were selected.


38 participants were trained by the Axum Agricultural Research Center (AxARC). the trainees were 20 selected participant farmers, 10 development agents/community workers and 8 subject matter specialists of the bureau of agriculture. The training had theoretical and practical session. The theoretical training focused on general aspects of goat production, management, feeding, health care, record keeping and management of the current trial. Practical training was given on construction of goat houses, feeds and feed processing/preparation and data recording. Handouts and a manual on goat production were given to each trainee for future reference.

Genotype used and animal management

The genotypes used in the study included 50% Boer (100% Abergelle x100%Boer) (n=20), pure local (n=29) and 25% Boer (50% Boer x 100% local) (n=29). Twenty 50% Boer (100% Abergelle x100% Boer) mature goats were purchased from Abergelle Agricultural research center (Yechila). Each selected farmer was supplied with one male or female Boar goat to live with their local flock of goats in order to breed with them. Animals were managed in extensive system.

Measurements and observations

Weaning weight (WWT), six month-weight (SMW) and nine-month weight (NMW) were recorded in the morning before grazing and watering. Weight measurements were taken at two week intervals using the salter scale with capacity of 50kg and 200g precision.

Statistical model and data analysis

The weaning weight, six-month weight, nine-month weight and weight gains of the kids were taken as dependent variables. Sex, district and blood level were taken as independent variables. The data were analyzed using statistical software in SAS (2009) and SPSS (2010) version16.0. Means were compared using the Duncan test.


Weaning weight and nine months weights of Boer crosses (50% and 25%) were higher than those of local goats (Table 1). No differences were observed across districts regarding weaning weight, six month and nine-month weights in males and females.

Table 1. Mean values for main effects of breed, district and sex on body weight of local and cross bred
goats on weights at weaning, 6 months and 9 months and daily live weight gain to 6 and to 9 months

Live weight, kg

Live weight gain, g/d


6 month

9 month

0-6 month

0-9 month

Genetic group

Local, n=29






25% Boer, n=29






50% Boer, n=20




13 0.73b









N/adet, n=41






M/leke, n=37





20 0.97a


























ab mean values with different superscripts within the same main effect differ at p<0.05

The mean weights at weaning and at 6 and at 9 months for F1 crossbred kids (50% Boer) were higher than those of pure bred local kids or 25%Boer:75% local breed (Figure 1).

The kids from 100% Boer sire breed were heavier at weaning, at six months and at nine months than those from 50% Boer sire breed. Weights of kids of 50% Boer dam breed were heavier at weaning, six months and nine months than those from 50%Boer and 100% local sires.

Table 2. Mean values for dam breed and sire breed effects on body weight of local and crossbreed goats


Genetic group

Live weight, kg

Live weight gain, g/d


6 month

9 month

0-6 month

0-9 month

Dam breed

100% local (n=70)






50% Boer (n=8)












Sire breed

100% Boer(n=20)






100% Local (n=38)






50% Boer (n=20)












ab mean values with different superscripts within the same main effect differ at p<0.05

Irrespective of the sire breed, kids from F1 dams grew better than those from 100% local breed dams.

Figure 1. Comparison of growth patterns of pure local and crosses
with Boer or with F1 Boer-Local at different ages


The higher body weight and growth rates observed in Boar goat crosses compared with local breed goats was to be expected in view of the genetic superiority of the Boar goat breed in body weight which is a highly heritable trait. The breed is known for its non-additive genetic response in crossbreeding systems (Bekele et al 2010). These results are in agreement with those reported by Chhbardra and Sapra (1973) in India.

The effect of sex in favor of males over females in body weight is in line with results from other authors (Solomon 2010).



We would like to thank Operational Research Project, funded by the Irish Government through Irish Aid Program for funding support and all farmers and development agents found in M/leke and N/adet district of Tigray who actively participated in this project.


Adane H and Girma A 2008 Economic significance of sheep and goats. In: Alemu Yami and R.C. Merkel (eds.). Sheep and Goat Production Handbook of Ethiopia. ESGPIP (Ethiopian sheep and goat productivity improvement program). Branna Printing Enterprise. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. pp. 325-340.

Ameha S 2008 Sheep and goat meat characteristics and quality. Pp. 325-340. In: Alemu Yami and R.C. Merkel (eds.). Sheep and Goat Production Handbook of Ethiopia. ESGPIP (Ethiopian sheep and goat productivity improvement program). Branna Printing Interprise. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Bekele G 2010 Health Monitoring of local and crossbred goats in Gursum, Eastern Hararghe. DVM Thesis. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.

Casey N H and Van Niekerk W A 1988 The Boer goat. Origin, adaptability, performance testing, reproduction and milk production. Small Ruminant Research. 1, 291-302.

Chhbardra A D and Sapra K L 1973 Growth, mortality and carcass quality traits of indigenous and exotic pure breeds and their crosses. In. Vet. J., 50:1007

CSA (Central Statistical Agency) 2017 Agricultural Sample Survey. Volume II: Report on Livestock and livestock characteristics (Private peasant holdings). Statistical Bulletin 570. Central Statistical Agency (CSA)

Erasmus J A 2000 Adaptation to various environments and resistance to disease of the improved boar goat. Small Rumin, Res 36:179-187

FAO 2002 FAOSTAT data.

Malan S W 2000 The improved boar goat. Small Rumin, Res 36:165-170

Peacock C 2005 Goats- A pathway out of poverty. Small Ruminant Research, 60:179-186.

SAS (Statistical Analysis System) institute inc. 2009 SAS procedure guide, Version 9.2. Cory, NC, USA.

Shumuye B, Gebreslassie G, Guesh G , Minister B, Mulalem Z, Hailay H and Tsegay T 2014 Reproductive performance of Abergelle goats and growth rate of their crosses with Boer goats in Abergelle Agricultural Research Centre, Tigray Ethiopia.

Solomon G, Azage T, Berhanu G and Dirk H 2010 Sheep and goat production and marketing systems in Ethiopia: Characteristics and strategies for improvement. IPMS (Improving Productivity and Market Success) of Ethiopian Farmers. Project Working Paper 23. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya. P 58.

SPSS 2010 Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 16.0 for windows, release 16.0.

Tibbo M 2006 Productivity and health of indigenous sheep breeds and crossbreds in the central Ethiopian highlands. Doctoral dissertation. ISSN 1652-6880, ISBN 91-576-7100-1

Wilson R T 1987 Livestock production in central Mali: Environmental Factor affecting weight in traditionally managed Goats and Sheep production, 45: 223 – 230

Received 1 August 2019; Accepted 20 September 2019; Published 2 October 2019

Go to top