Skip to main content



Project in Ethiopia

Addressing Young Stock Mortality in Smallholder Farms and Pastoral Herds of Ethiopia

Timeframe: October 2016 - September 2020

Funding: USAID

Principal investigator (PI) and lead institution

Woutrina Smith, University of California, Davis

Co-PI and collaborator institutions


Journal Articles

Demil, E., Fentie, T., Vidal, G., Jackson, W., Lane, J., Mekonnen, S.A., and Smith, W. 2021. Prevalence of bovine viral diarrhea virus antibodies and risk factors in dairy cattle in Gondar city, Northwest Ethiopia. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 191, 105363,

Wong, J. T., Lane, J. K., Allan, F. K., Vidal, G., Vance, C., Donadeu, M., Jackson, W., Nwankpa, V., Abera, S., Mekonnen, G. A., Kebede, N., Admassu, B., Amssalu, K., Lemma, A., Fentie, T., Smith, W., and Peters, A. R. 2022. Reducing Calf Mortality in Ethiopia. Animals, 12(16), 2126.

Yitagesu, E., Jackson, W., Kebede, N., Smith, W. and Fentie, T. 2021. Prevalence of bovine abortion, calf mortality, and bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) persistently infected calves among pastoral, peri-urban, and mixed-crop livestock farms in central and Northwest Ethiopia. BMC Vet Res 17,87.

Video. 2021. Addressing young stock morbidity and mortality in smallholder farms and pastoral herds in Ethiopia (YSM) project: Major findings. Universities Fighting World Hunger 2021 Summit. University of California, Davis.

Mr. Chalachew Yitbarkek, Dr. Tsegaw Fentie, and Mrs. Berhanu Tewabe pose  double-guarded culture swabs

By wood: Mr. Chalachew Yitbarkek, Dr. Tsegaw Fentie, and Mrs. Berhanu Tewabe pose with some of her dairy calves at her peri-urban farm in Gondar town. (J. Lane/UCDavis)

By fence: Graduate students are holding double-guarded culture swabs that will be used for sampling in dairy calves for detecting respiratory viral and bacterial pathogens. (W. Jackson/UCDavis)

Project Plan

Ethiopia is poised at the brink of a new era, with the population rapidly increasing while the food supplies cannot keep up with the demand. As an integral part of Ethiopian agriculture, livestock contributes considerably to an economy that accounts for 19% of the GDP and 20% of the export earnings. Although the livestock population is the largest in the continent, the productivity and competitiveness is in general low due to various animal diseases, feed problems, poor husbandry, and poor marketing infrastructures.

Traditionally, livestock owners have been raising many animals under an inefficient system to buffer against losses in production that result from disease, compared to the alternative of raising fewer animals in a more efficient, well-managed system. Ongoing investigation of the epidemiology of young stock morbidity and mortality will help in prioritizing major health and management problems along with critical control points in livestock systems.

The project goal is to understand causes and risk factors for young stock mortality in cattle, goats and camels, while also providing input on the pilot testing of health interventions. For the latter, the project team works closely with the Young Stock Mortality Consortium led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources that also includes Tufts University and the University of Edinburgh.  The consortium has developed animal health intervention packages that this Reach project will pilot.

The project is focused on mixed-crop livestock farms, peri-urban dairy farms, and pastoral production systems.  The project also has a strong human and institutional capacity development at the universities of Addis Ababa and Gondar, as well as at the main government laboratory system for Ethiopia.  Researchers, graduate and postdoctoral students from these institutions are involved in the collaborative research.


The main goal of this project is to generate new epidemiological information on the major causes of young stock morbidity and mortality that hampers the productivity of livestock in Ethiopia, and evaluate government-planned intervention strategies.

Specific Aims

  • Collect epidemiologic data on young stock management, farm factors, feed resources, livestock disease, and socio-demography of livestock producers.
  • Assess risk factors for young stock mortality in Ethiopia.
  • Evaluate intervention strategies for reduction of young stock losses that align with the Livestock Master Plan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources.
    Build human and institutional diagnostic and research capacities at Addis Ababa University, University of Gondar, and the National Animal Health Diagnostic and Investigation Center.
  • Provide training to extension officers, livestock keepers, and prioritize involvement of women in all study components.

More Information

 October 2020 research update SMITH VGM (Virtual General Meeting)

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems is part of Feed the Future

This work was funded in whole or part by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security under Agreement # AID-OAA-L-15-00003 as part of Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. Additional funding was received from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation OPP#060115.  Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors alone.