A review of studies on breed evaluation and genetic improvement of cattle in Ghana

  • S.A Okantah


A review of some major cattle breed evaluation and genetic improvement experiments, particularly in the post-independence period up to 1990, was made. There was no clearly defined policy on genetic improvement of livestock during the period; hence, breed improvement efforts were uncoordinated. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Faculties of Agriculture at the universities and the Animal Research Institute were the major organizations that showed interest in breed evaluation and genetic improvement of cattle in Ghana. The programmes involved the use of Zebu × Taurine (e.g. White Fulani × West African Shorthorn) crossbreds, exotic × local (e. g. Friesian × Sanga), or purebred exotics (e. g. Friesian). The exotics and their crossses had better growth rates and milk yields than the local or indigenous breeds. The former genetic groups also had poorer
adaptation to the local environment. It was concluded that the very elaborate breed evaluation and genetic improvement experiments conducted by the universities were limited to stations, resulting in little or no impact on the production system. The experiments of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture were the most successful, as the Sanga progeny from the Zebu × Taurine crossbreeding projects was adopted by farmers in all cattle-rearing regions in the country. It was also concluded that, from point of view of adaptation and expenditure required for importation, genetic improvement of cattle should be based on the available adapted indigenous breeds, namely West African Shorthorn and the Sanga. Within breed selection and crossbreeding, including the use of exotics, were available options. The need for clear breeding objectives was emphasized.

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eISSN: 0855-0042