Show Notes

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Breeding values are something we discuss a lot here at neXtgen Agri. We decided to do a podcast episode explaining exactly what they are and how they are ‘built’.

Today, Daniel Brown, Principal Scientist at Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), joins us to discuss what breeding values are, how they are developed, their role, the impact of genomics and the future of genetic evaluation.

Mark and Daniel begin with the basics of breeding values and the benefits of genomic testing. “Breeders record pedigree and performance information for a range of traits. A breeding value amalgamates all that performance information on an animal - and its relatives - for a range of traits, into an estimated genetic merit,” explains Daniel. “It’s essentially taking individual performance data and amalgamating it through the pedigree and adjusting for things like environmental effects … to get the best estimate we can of an animal's genetic merit.”

Daniel explains that as more and more producers utilise genomics, the reference population is getting considerably larger, which opens up the opportunity for breeders to get fairly accurate breeding values for young animals from just a DNA sample. Genomics also gives you the ability to see which genes were inherited from which parent. It’s often assumed that both humans and animals inherit 50% from each parent, but this isn’t true. 

“The genomic information gives us a much more accurate measure of the relationship. Unlike the standard assumption, that you get half your genes from mum and dad, it actually varies from … 25 to 60 … it might change between individuals. So it gives us the ability to estimate relationships much more accurately,” Daniel explains. 

Mark and Daniel discuss both the history of breeding values and also the future. The field of genetic evaluation is constantly evolving, with the potential for changes in genotyping methods and the inclusion of new traits.  With more data, comes more answers - we just need to find them, says Daniel. 

Head Shepherd is brought to you by neXtgen Agri International Limited, we help livestock farmers get the most out of the genetics they farm with. Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about how we can help you do what you do best -

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