Development of genomic resources for Muturu cattle at risk of extinction in Nigeria


GCRF AgriFood Africa Innovation Awards Round 3





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About the project

UK-registered Partner: Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetic and Health (CTLGH), University of Edinburgh – Oluyinka Opoola
Africa-registered Partner: The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) – Matthew Wheto

The project set out to support the conservation of indigenous Muturu cattle, a breed at risk of extinction in Nigeria. Compared to other breeds, Muturu has a large frame, which translates into higher meat to bone ratio and a suitable breed for local beef production.

There are efforts to conserve the breed and establish a large and diverse Muturu population in Nigeria. However, these are hampered by farmer native beliefs since they consider the breed as sacred, hence, most preferring on-farm mating usually leading to inbreeding. Additionally, only a few studies have focused on phenotypic and genetic characterisation.

Therefore, the project was designed to focus on:

  1. Identification of Muturu cattle using approved animal tagging to support conservation and
  2. Assessment of diversity and further carry out population genetics to ascertain differences and/or similarities in the breed’s genetic background.

To support our objectives, we engaged farmers on better/suitable breeding practices to maintain breed existence and improved productivity for food security in January 2023. As a result, tail hair samples (n =500) were collected from FUNAAB research station and neighbouring villages in the Southwest of Nigeria and genotyped at Neogen’s Dairy School, UK.

Using our results, farmers will be able to make informed choices towards improving the Muturu cattle within their locality. We anticipate that the resulting data will support the phenotypic and genetic characterisation (and diversity) of the Muturu breed to inform the design of breeding strategies and policies that would ensure conservation and sustainable utilization of the breed to contribute to food security. An existence of such breeding strategy will help to overcome some of the native beliefs, leading to improved productivity.

Learn more about the project in this recording from our recent GCRF AgriFood Africa Project Showcase event.


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