Information on costs and benefits of conservation programmes for cattle is scarce in the literature and mainly available for Europe. This study aims at simulating cost of and benefits from different kinds of conservation programmes designed for indigenous African cattle. The programmes include installation of a herdbook and activities to promote the breed (HB), in situ conservation with a sire rotation scheme (IS), cryoconservation of semen (CC) and CC combined with in situ conservation (IC). The results indicate that cost of the analysed conservation programmes was generally higher than those reported in the literature for comparable schemes. If cost per effective population size conserved is considered, programmes analysed in this study do not appear to be more expensive. The proposed rotation scheme in IS can be applied to many different production systems and prove to be effective with regard to low increase in kinship. Reduction in extinction probability is found to be higher for conservation programmes that strongly involve farmers and give them part of the responsibility for the breeding population. IC was most efficient with regard to cost per effective population size conserved. However, if cost per reduction in endangerment is considered as criterion for the efficiency of a programme, IS, HB and CC are superior to IC. These findings suggest that decisions on conservation programmes should be based on multiple criteria, and not just on cost per effective population size.
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