Description of the production condition and level of performance is the first step in improving production performance. The study described the indigenous cattle reproductive performances, management practices and production limitations in north-western Ethiopia. Multistage purposive and random sampling methods were used to select the study sites/districts and households. A semi-structured questionnaire (320 interviewees), focus group discussions (12) and personal observations were used for data collection. Chi-square (χ2) test, the least squares mean and the ranking indexes were the statistical methods employed for data analysis. Livestock composition, reproductive performance and production constraints of cattle showed significant differences (p < 0.001) between agro-ecological zones. Cattle were the dominant livestock species, with mean numbers of 18.3 ± 9.9, 8.1 ± 3.2 and 5.4 ± 2.5 heads in the lowland, midland and highland agro-ecological zones, respectively. The mean ages at first mating of bulls, first service of heifers, first calving and calving interval of cows were best in the highlands, while the midland agro-ecology had the worst performance. Feed shortage (Index = 0.4) and disease prevalence (Index = 0.25) were the main cattle production problems. Natural pasture was the main feed source for cattle in the study areas. The study revealed a significant effect agro-ecology on landholding, cattle management practices, species composition; cattle herd structure, reproductive performances and cattle production constraints. This implies that the socioeconomic characteristics, management-level constraints for production and performance level of the livestock stock are important for developing improvement strategies for smallholder livestock production in different agro-ecological zones.
- cattle management practice
- indigenous cattle
- reproductive performance
- smallholder production system