Thirteen qualitative and six morphometric variables on a total of 651 adult cattle (76 oxen and 575 cows) from four purposively selected districts were recorded to characterize the cattle populations in and around the breeding tract of Raya cattle. General linear model, frequency, and multivariate analysis procedures of Statistical Analysis Software (SAS 9.0) were used to analyze the data by splitting and merging the sexes. Higher measurement values for oxen were recorded over the cows. Location affects the studied traits significantly. The cattle population from Habru district was significantly differentiated from Raya cattle. Among the districts of Raya cattle, lowest values for most of the linear measurements were observed in Kobo district. Majority of the Raya cattle possess upright, lyre-shaped horn, small, and erected hump placed at the cervical thoracic position, large dewlap, naval flap, and perpetual sheath sizes and dominantly dark red body color with uniform body color pattern. Stepwise discriminant function analysis reveals horn length, ear length, and height at wither were the first three most important morphometric variables used in discriminating the cattle populations. Canonical discrimination analysis showed that the first canonical structure explains majority (94.13%) of the total variation with eigenvalue of 2.07 and canonical correlation of 82.14%. Discriminant function analysis showed the classification of an average 61% of the studied animals into their respective districts. Pairwise Mahalanobis distances between populations from different districts were found to be highly significant. Habru cattle population relates distantly from Raya cattle except its short distance with Kobo district. The shortest distance was observed between Raya cattle of Alamata and Raya Azebo districts. In conclusion, cattle from Alamata, Raya Azebo, and Kobo districts can be categorized as Raya cattle, while strong similarities between the first two districts in showing the real characteristics and morphology of Raya cattle were also revealed.
Keywords: Cattle; Distance; Morphometric; Multivariate; Qualitative; Raya Azebo.