Camel and young calf in a Borana Village, Yabello, Ethiopia. Photo: Camille Hanotte (ILRI)

Reducing camel and small ruminant young stock mortality in Ethiopia

Pilot interventions significantly reduced mortality and risk of diarrhoea and respiratory disease among young animals

by Fiona Allan

In Ethiopia, where camels and small ruminants (sheep and goats) are essential to smallholders, up to 40% of livestock do not live beyond one year. Young stock losses can cause severe consequences to livelihoods. SEBI-Livestock was part of the Young Stock Mortality Reduction Consortium (YSMRC), working with Ethiopian partners to design, implement and monitor interventions targeted for small scale producers in pastoral and mixed crop-livestock systems in Ethiopia, to reduce young stock losses.  A new study demonstrates the impacts of these interventions and can inform further actions and investments in Ethiopia’s livestock.

In 2019, camel and small ruminant households were recruited across four study districts (total 600 households invited to enrol) and staggered baseline evaluations were carried out, prior to introducing the interventions.  The interventions aligned with national objectives in the Ethiopian Livestock Master Plan, and were implemented by the government to assess applicability for scaling up.  Following baseline data collection, year-long interventions were implemented and staggered final evaluations carried out in 2020.

Evaluations showed highly significant reductions in morbidity and mortality post-interventions, in both camels and small ruminants. Many households had very few animals, making it challenging to measure impact, and not all households benefitted from the interventions.  The largest improvement in practice was in using camel calf supplementary feed; prior to this intervention, deaths due to malnutrition were 15 times higher.

The pilot study identified morbidity and mortality risks which highlighted management problems.  The findings can inform policy-makers to better understand how management affects livestock development objectives and to invest in priority areas to improve productivity.  The project was designed to be sustainable beyond its completion, and activities from a wider study piloted are currently being scaled up for bovine calves by the Ministry of Agriculture.  It is hoped that this will be extended to camel and small ruminant young stock as well.

Read the full article:

Fiona K. Allan, Johanna T. Wong, Alemayehu Lemma, Ciara Vance, Meritxell Donadeu, Shubisa Abera, Berhanu Admassu, Veronica Nwankpa, Jennifer K. Lane, Woutrina Smith, Nigatu Kebede, Kassaw Amssalu, Tsegaw Fentie, Christian Schnier, Andrew R. Peters. Interventions to reduce camel and small ruminant young stock morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. Volume 219, 2023. 106005, ISSN 0167-5877,

Learn more about the YSM project and its partners


Dr. Fiona Allan is a Researcher (Animal Health) with SEBI-Livestock.

Vanessa Meadu, Communications and Knowledge Exchange Specialist, SEBI-Livestock
Page created: 26 Sep 2023 Page last reviewed: 26 Sep 2023