Genetic improvement of indigenous breeds can make a significant contribution to the conservation and utilisation of local genetic resources. At present, there is insufficient documentation on phenotypic and genetic performance for important production and reproduction traits under low input production circumstances for indigenous populations. This limited knowledge is putting local animal genetic resources at risk. This thesis has focussed on ways to better utilize local animal genetic resources by developing strategies for the implementation of improvement programmes for trypanotolerant breeds in The Gambia and inWest Africain general. The project was built on the analysis of ongoing selection programmes co-ordinated by the International Trypanotolerance Centre (ITC) in The Gambia. The analysis of this selection programme indicated that genetic improvement programmes in the context of sustainability within the low input production system was feasible and could serve as a model for effective breeding schemes in low and medium livestock production systems in the West African region. Genetic progress was achieved and effectively transmitted to farmers through the involvement offarmersand their communities in the improvement programmes. Genetic progress was realised and the estimated genetic parameters obtained could be used for further improvement of cattle and small ruminant selection strategies. It was recommended to intensify training and capacity building activities for both implementation and further development of the programme. In addition, financial security is important for the long-term sustainability of the programme. For a practical breeding scheme (low input system) for the N'Dama cattle, a young sire scheme was suggested. Model calculations showed that this scheme leads to the best improvements in the overall breeding goal and consolidates efficient dissemination of the genetic improvement to the whole farming population. The project has demonstrated that development of strategies for the implementation of improvement programmes in West African countries is feasible and that they contribute to a better utilisation of trypanotolerant breeds.
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