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Journal of Arid Environments Volume 197, February 2022, 104664 Modeling the recovery dynamics of Ethiopia cattle population Author links open overlay panelEmerta A.AragieJamesThurlow https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2021.104664 Get rights and content Highlights • Three levels of drought shocks are used in conjunction with alternative scenarios on farmer and cattle response options. • The Ethiopian cattle population could not recover in 13% of the full set of cases considered. • There are extremely dissimilar impacts of drought on the herd dynamics depending on the response mechanisms. • Drought combined with increased cattle offtake results in permanent reduction in size. • For all recovery trajectories, the herd growth rate converges to the long-term trend within the simulation period. Abstract Periodic droughts highly influence the dynamics of the cattle population in tropical Africa, including Ethiopia, which in turn creates dramatic drops in post-shock herd size, and disturbs the sex and age structure. The ability to recover from demographic shocks is fundamental in livestock systems frequently affected by drought and epidemics. This article develops a detailed herd dynamics model for the Ethiopian cattle population and estimates key baseline demographic parameters based on nationally representative cattle survey time-series data in an internally consistent manner. The model is then used to simulate the post-drought dynamics of the herd under a set of basic scenarios and sensitivity analysis describing the drought severity, herd performance, and management practices. The resilience of the cattle herd was evaluated using three indicators: the probability to recover, the time it takes for recovery, and the annual multiplication rate during recovery. The study finds extremely dissimilar impacts on the herd dynamics, including sex and age structure. Simulations also show that the rate of recovery is inversely related to the time for recovery. For all recovery trajectories, the herd growth rate converges to the long-term trend within the simulation period. The study also implies a few policy responses.