Mapping breeds to appropriate production environments: a case study of Ethiopian indigenous sheep and goats
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Environmental suitability analysis is an important step in planning livestock development activities because of its efficiency to allocate improved and new livestock breeds to their most appropriate habitats for optimal production while minimizing adverse effects on the environment. This study used geoinformatics based spatial analytical tools, to develop breed-specific similarity index maps to determine productive biophysical environmental zones for four (Atsbi, Doyogena, Horro, Menz) and two (Abergelle, Yabello) breeds of Ethiopian indigenous sheep and goats, respectively. Initial results indicate a broad scale pattern showing varying degrees of suitable environments for the two species. Specifically, Menz and Horro are highly suitable in 7.79% and 6.09% of the total land area of Ethiopia, respectively and Doyogena and Atsbi have a restricted geographic range. Although, the suitable production environments for the four sheep breeds show a slight overlap, that of goats did not. Abergelle is best suited to the drylands of northern Ethiopia while Yabello is suitable to the southern ones. Our results provide insights for targeting location specific breed interventions, which together with climate change trajectories and natural resource base, will be a major criterion for building resilient production systems. Further analysis, including micro climatic variability, feed stock potential and ecological carrying capacity, will be required to refine species-by-breed agroecological niches.