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This study aimed to identify the breeding objectives of smallholder goat keepers and to compare designs of alternative-based breeding schemes for genetic improvement of western lowland Arab goats in Assosa Zone, Western Ethiopia. In the present study methods of trait preference ranking, own-flock ranking and bio-economic modeling were used to identify goat breeding objectives. Based on the bio-economic evaluation results, the economic values of each trait were included as an input to design breeding schemes. Six alternative breeding schemes, four schemes for the village program and two for the central nucleus program were evaluated for optimal breeding programs in terms of their genetic and economic efficiencies considering the top three most important traits identified. The schemes varied from 1 to 5% in the nucleus breeding unit, and 200 to 500 in the nucleus flock size. The results showed that there were close covenant farmer’s trait preferences through the two participatory ranking experiments and bio-economic model, and thus, body size (6-month weight (6-MW)), multiple births (litter size (LTS)), and pre-weaning survival rate (PWS) were the top three highest breeding objective traits identified for goat keepers. The highest genetic gain for 6 month’s weight was predicted from scheme-5, and scheme-1 was the highest among the village schemes. However, this scheme was not appreciable under smallholder breeders’ management practices due to the requirement of large central nucleus flocks and logistics. In view of these limitations, a cooperative village scheme linked with a central nucleus scheme is suggested as the best option to attain fast genetic gains and profits. However, to upgrade the entire Arab goat flocks which are kept under small-scale farmers’ condition, scheme-1 could be used as an alternative option.
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