PhO student: Wondmeneh Esatu
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Joint project of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Wageningen University (WU), funded by Koepon Foundation
Project team: Dr Nigussie Dana (EIAR), Dr Tadelle Dessie (ILRI), Dr Liesbeth van der Waaij (WU) and Prof. Dr Johan van Arendonk (WU)


Chickens are the only affordable livestock for the poor and improving their production level can improve the livelihood of the village farmers, and thus serve as a stepping stone out of extreme poverty. Production levels of indigenous chicken can be improved by organised breeding A participatory approach will be used to ensure that the breeding programme is tailored towards local needs and circumstances Further, it will be investigated how the breeding programme can be best embedded in supply and sales chain and linked to training and support of village farmers to ensure that breeding contributes to reduction of poverty and hunger.

The programme will build on the ongoing breeding program established two years ago at the Oebre Zeit Research Center of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). This program is based on genetic improvement of Horro population of chickens through selective breeding. The genetic improvement strategies will be focusing on two aspects, one intending to develop pure lines of Horro chickens selected for traits identified to be the most important by rural farmers followed by cross breeding of improved lines of Horro chickens with exotic layer strains. The choice of the exotic strain to be used will be based on results of an ongoing evaluation of production and adaptation characteristics of the exotic layer strains which has started in 2008 at the Oebre Zeit research station.

The breeding program will be carried out using both selection (of indigenous Horro chickens) and cross breeding (of improved Horro chickens with commercial strain). The ultimate goal is to develop a blue print for improving village poultry production by integrating breeding, marketing, and training. On-farm studies will take place in selected villages in Ethiopia to evaluate the performance pf improved breeds subjected to different production circumstances building on existing experiences of project partners.