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Exploring animal husbandry in smallholder dairy systems in Ethiopia using photovoice.

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Phelan, Lisette 
Gemechu, Gizachew 
Berg, Stefan 
Mihret, Adane 


This study uses photovoice to explore smallholder dairy farmers' husbandry knowledge and practices and document how they address constraints faced in pursuing their livelihood strategy. Currently, there is a paucity of farmer-led research in Ethiopia which captures farmers' local knowledge and lived experiences. This study was conducted in April and May 2021 in Kaliti, a sub-city of Addis Ababa, and Holeta, located near Addis Ababa, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Farmers were selected through purposive and snowball sampling approaches based on their previous participation in a bovine tuberculosis study. Farmers selection was based on their experience in dairy farming and willingness to attend research-related meetings and to engage in photo-taking and subsequent group discussions. Farmers were trained on the use of the digital camera and asked to take pictures of their day-to-day activities, challenges faced in pursuing dairy production and how they overcome these challenges. The pictures taken by farmers indicated their attachment to their cattle, cattle disease symptoms, manure management, pest control practices, cattle housing, feeding practices, milking hygiene and storage. Discussions revealed that husbandry challenges faced stemmed from land-use change, declining farm sizes, poor access to veterinary and animal health services, low milk prices and high cattle feed prices. Farmers explained that they had developed knowledge of cattle nutrition, such as feed ration mixing and ways to deal with manure problems. The results of this study underscore that farmers have a good understanding of husbandry challenges and, additionally, have a wealth of local knowledge which can be leveraged, if captured through participatory and visual research methods, such as photovoice, by policymakers to develop context-aware policies and interventions and recommendations regarding improved practices which are economically viable, and socially and culturally acceptable.



Animal health, Dairy production, Documentary photography, Local knowledge, Participatory research, Zoonoses

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Agric Food Secur

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/L018977/1)