Genetics body aims to improve breeding

UK - Scotland has a long history of leadership in animal breeding and the official opening yesterday of Edinburgh Genetic Evaluation Services (EGENES) on the Scottish Agricultural College's Bush Estate campus will do much to enhance that reputation.

The initiative is a joint venture between SAC, Beef and Sheep Company (BASCO) and Signet, the recording division of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

EGENES has got off to a fine beginning, having been awarded a contract to handle all dairy records on behalf of the Milk Development Council (MDC), an organisation funded by levies from producers and the industry. This will involve processing about 120 million records each year.

The science of genetics is increasingly precise, as Professor Geoff Simm of SAC explained. He said: "It is possible to achieve a genetic improvement of 1 per cent to 3 per cent each year, which means that over the past ten years there has been rise of up to 30 per cent in productivity, especially with pigs and poultry. However, it's been slower with beef and sheep, but farmers are now beginning to latch on to what can be done."

Prof Simm said there was a lot of scepticism 30 years ago on the part of dairy farmers, but it was now accepted that more productive cows could be bred through the use of genetic data. The overall boost to farming during that 30-year period is estimated at £455 million. The gains for the beef and sheep sectors are more modest, at £18 million and £17m respectively.

Source: The Scotsman
calendar icon 29 November 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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