Understanding characteristics of production systems and identification of specific preferred traits related to breeding objectives is a first important step to the successful implementation of any breeding program. This study was conducted in the South West of Burkina Faso, the traditional habitat of trypanotolerant Baoule cattle, to identify farmers' trait preferences and breeding practices. Following a synthesis of information from stakeholders, a structural questionnaire was designed and administered to 194 heads of households. Cattle herd structure was investigated via herd survey on 101 farms to record breed, age, status, weight and linear body measurements of animals. Own herd ranking method was used in addition to identify the most important criteria for selecting breeding cows. The importance of each criterion was estimated by computing the index of ranking. Regarding breeds and herd mobility, sedentary pure Baoule, sedentary mixed breed, and transhumant Zebu and crossbred systems were defined. Average cattle herd size was 51.23 +/- 55.72 heads and was significantly (P<0.05) highest in the transhumant Zebu and crossbred system. Herd structure showed that cows were the most frequent age-sex-class in all the production systems. A high proportion of all farmers reported purposefully selecting their breeding animals but only 36.67% of them in pure Baoule system select their breeding females. Breeding bulls were selected from young males in the own herd and they were selected significantly (P<0.05) later in pure Baoule system. The majority of transhumant farmers reported castration of not selected males while only 33% of farmers in pure Baoule system reported that. The most important common criteria for selection among the production systems were adult size for both males and females, including calf growth for females. Production systems were heterogeneous on the other preferred traits. Based on these findings, implementation of breeding programs involving farmers and their specific characteristics and practices can contribute to improve and conserve local cattle breeds in this area. Community-based breeding programs for pure Baoule and cross-breds aiming to improve body size and trypanotolerance are being implemented.