Morphological traits and structural indices of Hararghe highland goat populations reared in the West Hararghe zone, Ethiopia
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The study was conducted to describe the Hararghe highland goat populations based on their morphological traits and assess their type and function by applying structural indices. Nine qualitative and fifteen morphometric traits were collected from 450 goats (123 males and 327 females) in three agro-ecologies of the west Hararghe zone. Twenty-two structural indices were calculated from morphometric traits. The statistical analysis system's frequency and multiple correspondence analysis procedures were used to analyze qualitative data, while the general linear model procedures were used to analyze morphometric traits. The results indicated that the most frequently observed coat color pattern was mainly plain, followed by patchy. All the morphometric variables were significantly (p <0.05) affected by agro-ecology except body weight, scrotal circumference, rump width, and length. A strong positive correlation (p < 0.05) between body weight and other morphometric traits was observed for both sex groups. Most of the structural indices varied (p < 0.05) across the sex group and indicated that the Hararghe highland goat populations are suitable for meat production. This study revealed the presence of variability in the observed morphological traits among the studied goat populations in three agroecologies. Therefore, the Hararghe highland goat populations in this zone may possess unique adaptive features that are useful in designing sustainable goat genetic improvement programs. The genetic potential of Hararghe highland goat populations can be improved and maintained through community-based breeding programs for their sustainable utilization and conservation.