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FAO report discusses needs and challenges for animal genetics

In the latest report on animal genetic resources released by the FAO, AbacusBio consultants Peter Amer and Bruno Santos contributed their industry insights on genetic improvement initiatives for sheep around the world.

According to the key findings in the report, the impact of many livestock-sector trends on animal genetic resources and their management is increasing.

Emerging technologies are creating new opportunities and challenges in animal genetic resources management.

“The adoption of genomic prediction and selection technologies in breeding programmes has attracted significant interest in many countries,” Peter says.

“The use of genetic technologies, especially in highly intensive sheep-farming systems, has created substantial opportunities to increase the rate of genetic progress.”

Common selection criteria for sheep include traits for production, reproduction, and robustness.

The report also states that establishing and sustaining effective livestock breeding programmes remains challenging in many countries, particularly in the low-input production systems of the developing world.

“There is a disproportion between the high investment in genomic approaches and the relatively low uptake of such technologies,” Bruno explains.

To date, the adoption of genomic selection approaches has been limited to highly progressive breeders wanting to be at the forefront of technology.

“Work on how to integrate genomic predictions into breeding programme structures has been highlighted as the main key to increase adoption,” Peter says.

In addition, formal industry structures and the coordinated provision of genetic improvement services such as databases and genetic evaluation systems are critical to the success of genetic evaluation systems.

However again, even where such systems exist, adoption rates may be poor.

The report has emphasised the need to improve awareness, education, training, and research in all areas of animal genetic resources management, as well as strengthening breeding strategies and programmes.

The report sets out the latest available information on the:

  • state of livestock diversity;
  • trends in the livestock sector;
  • state of capacity to manage animal genetic resources;
  • state of the art in animal genetic resources management; and
  • needs and challenges in animal genetic resources management.

More information about the report can be found on this link: