Genetic selection for enhanced production efficiency

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 2:45 PM
2102B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Daniel F. Waldron , Texas A&M AgriLife Research, San Angelo, TX
Abstract Text: The objective of this presentation is to cover issues related to using genetic selection to enhance production efficiency of small ruminants. Efficiency of production is a function of outputs and inputs. Meat and fiber production are the most economically important outputs.  Outputs may be expressed as a function of number of breeding animals, amount of feed utilized, amount of land area, amount of time or labor required, or some other input factor. Genetic means of improving production efficiency should start with selection of the proper breed(s) for the production environment. Sheep and goat production can be thought of as a means of harvesting and converting forage or grains to meat and fiber.  Small ruminants can be productive in a variety of environmental conditions. The efficient breed(s) is one that fits the environment. Clarifying selection objectives is an important first step in developing a selection program. Selection for traits that have high heritability and can be measured early in life can yield results in a short period of time. Improvement in traits that can only be measured later in life and/or have a lower heritability take longer to yield results. An effective selection program must be adopted by enough breeders to have an impact on the larger population.  The segmented nature of the meat and fiber industries does not lend itself to efficient communication of economic incentives for improvements in production. Breeders and producers may not realize the importance of traits that are crucial at the processing stage. Improvement in information flow via economic incentives will provide breeders with the information needed to set breeding goals. Improved knowledge of relative importance of traits, in all segments of the industry, will lead to design of more effective selection programs. Designing an effective selection program requires knowledge of genetic and phenotypic relationships among traits and relative economic values of output traits.  Selection programs must also account for substantial changes in relative values of input traits.

Keywords: sheep goats genetics