Skip to main content
Doctoral thesis, 2011

Trypanotolerance and phenotypic characteristics of four Ethiopian cattle breeds

Stein, Jennie


Trypanosomosis is the single most important livestock disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Infected animals suffer from weight loss, anemia and miscarriages. Trypanotolerant breeds, however, can survive, produce and reproduce even under disease pressure. In Ethiopia some breeds live in infected areas and could possess trypanotolerance. The aim of this study was to compare the four Ethiopian cattle breeds Abigar, Gurage, Horro and Sheko in aspects related to trypanotolerance. These breeds are all kept in different tsetse infested parts of South-Western Ethiopia. To learn about constraints for livestock production and about cattle diseases in particular, a survey was carried out among livestock keepers in the areas where the breeds are normally kept. Trypanosomosis was considered the most important disease in all areas. Sheko and Abigar had the best milk production according to the livestock keepers. The reproductive performance was the least favorable for Gurage. Blood samples were collected during the peak trypanosomosis challenge period of the year, to determine parasitaemia and Packed red Cell Volume (PCV) as indicators of trypanosomosis. Sheko cattle were least infected by trypanosomes (6%), compared to the other breeds (17-23%). Horro and Sheko had the best PCV. The number of trypanocidal treatments varied greatly, where Sheko had the fewest and Gurage the most (1 vs. 24 treatments per animal and year). The four breeds were also compared at a field experimental station in a tsetse infested area (Ghibe valley), where a total of 375 animals were kept. Abigar and Gurage showed poor reproductive characteristics compared to Horro and Sheko. The survival rates were best in Horro and Sheko. Sheko and Abigar had the highest PCV. Sheko had the fewest average number of trypanocidal treatments and the lowest infection rate, 9% compared to 21-26% for the other breeds. Sheko cattle stand out as the most trypanotolerant animals; they rarely get infected by trypanosomes, and have good PCV, production and reproduction. A broader use of the Sheko breed in tsetse infested areas could improve animal health and household welfare. Immediate actions are needed to avoid extinction of this valuable breed.


cattle; breeds (animals); land races; genetic variation; phenotypes; trypanosomiasis; animal diseases; disease resistance; ethiopia

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2011, number: 2011:29
ISBN: 978-91-576-7564-4
Publisher: Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Stein, Jennie
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

URI (permanent link to this page)