Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Destocking in Atsbi : a move to more sheep?

Atbsi, in Northern Ethiopia is known for its highland sheep. Because it mainly feeds on grass it also get a special taste and therefore reaches a better market place. A special breeding program supported by the Livestock CRP (the research program i am working on) in the area is looking at improving the breed by selection. Indeed the carcass weight is 40% below its potential, meaning one could get more meat from one animal. The reason for this investment?

The bet is that destocking will take place by shifting from cattle to sheep. Really? the area has been chosen by the government for dairy production and the farmers we met in the presence of Ethiopian government representative all told us they want to have dairy (farmer 1, farmer 2)?

So we decided to stop randomly and talk to some farmer without the Ethiopian government representative. We found a farmer who was winnowing crops. We stopped and talked to him. He had a cross-breed cow and some sheep. His major challenge was fodder, and he was not convinced that his dairy cow was holding the promise of more milk. He was thinking of getting more sheep. He says that he can feed 10 sheep with the same fodder than for one cow and that seemed more profitable for him...

Will mechanization holds its promises? if yes how will destocking in Atsbi look like? More dairy? more sheep? Maybe just more specialized! A story to follow!

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