What are Indigenous animal breeds?
Indigenous animals are animals that are native to a particular geographic location. To be classified as an indigenous animal breed, the breed must have originated in the location and not been introduced there, either purposefully or accidentally. Africa has a wide range of indigenous breeds of cattle, goats, sheep, bees, chicken, and other poultry. These animals are part of the rich heritage of Africa.
As more improved and foreign exotic breeds of animals are introduced to Africa, the place of indigenous animals is increasingly under threat. The argument against indigenous breeds has always been low performance and production as compared to their improved or exotic counterparts.
Seemingly, exotic or improved breeds give farmers better returns. However, can a farmer make a profit rearing indigenous animal breeds in Africa? Are indigenous breeds as bad as they are painted? This article will give you 4 solid reasons why rearing indigenous animal breeds may not be a bad idea after all.
4 Reasons for Rearing Indigenous Animal Breeds
1. Better resistance to diseases and parasites
Animals that are indigenous to Africa have shown a better resistance to most diseases and parasites that are endemic in Africa. How is this so? Many centuries of interaction between these animals and the diseases have led to the animals building a higher immunity against the diseases. Moreso, indigenous animals have a better tolerance to parasites that are common in Africa.
Let’s take the Zebu cattle breed for example. Even though this breed originated in India many centuries ago, its early foray into Africa, makes it to be classified among the indigenous cattle breeds of Africa. The Zebu breed has good resistance to ticks. The breed is also resistant to trypanosomiasis, which is transmitted by tsetse flies. Exotic cattle breeds like Friesian and Aryshire do not have a similar tolerance or resistance to livestock diseases and parasites.
2. Easy adaptability to different climates
Indigenous livestock breeds of Africa are very adaptable to multiple climatic conditions. Whether reared in cold, warm, or dry climates these breeds have a very good tolerance to any type of climate. They are able to adjust their body needs depending on the surrounding environment. During the rainy season, these breeds feed well in preparation for dryer periods when pastures and water are scarce. Their hardy nature makes them ideal for rearing even in places with dry climates.
3. High marketability
While most indigenous animal breeds take longer to mature, they have high marketability in Africa. Consumers prefer indigenous breeds as they have better-tasting meat than exotic animals.
In chicken markets, indigenous chickens attract higher prices than exotic breeds such as Cornish Cross, Kuroiler, Rainbow Rooster, or Kenbro. The same applies to restaurants and butcheries. In Kenya for example, a Cornish cross broiler is sold at an average of $5 in butcheries. Indigenous chicken,s however, is sold at a minimum of $7 per bird. The extra period taken for indigenous chickens to reach maturity is compensated for in the market.
4. Excellent ability to forage for feeds and pastures
Indigenous animals have an innate ability to forage for their own feeds and pastures. These animals are excellent grazers. This is why they can be reared so easily under the free-range system. They are able to synthesis nutrients even from low-quality pastures in the case of indigenous cattle, goat, and sheep breeds. Most exotic livestock breeds do not possess this important trait.
Indigenous chickens also have excellent foraging characteristics. They use their claws to forage in the ground for nutritious food. At the end of any given day, they would have eaten insects, vegetation, grains, and anything that would boost their nutrition. Exotic chicken breeds and improved chicken breeds do not have the ability to forage extensively. They have to be provided with feeds. Farmers who rear indigenous animals and poultry, therefore, spend less or nothing on feeds.
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