Talking Genetics

Newsletter No. 75 - Item 4

The quality of genetics plays an increasingly important role in the commercial viability of livestock production.  The genetics influence such things as:

  • Breeder efficiency
    • Number of progeny
    • Reproductive ability
    • Longevity
  • Efficient Feed Conversion
  • Days taken to slaughter
  • Size of carcass
  • Fat levels

An article in the current issue of Pig International is discussing how to achieve 30 pigs per sow per year.  To put this into perspective, the current Farm Management Pocket Book has the average at 21.6 and high production at 24.7.  Therefore 30 represents nearly 40% more pigs per sow per annum than the UK average.  High performance genetics can only produce at their optimum when they are supported by adequate nutrition and very high standards of management.

The BBC in England recently showed a program on Television called “Mud, Sweat and Tractors”.  The program was particularly interesting as it showed old cine film footage and photographs going back even as far back as pre WW2.  Some photographs were Victorian times.  The program on Beef illustrated just how the pure breeds have changed to meet the modern market demands.

Pigs and Poultry can bring about genetic changes more quickly than ruminant animals because of the high number of progeny produced per year and the ability to raise batches from the same parentage.  A major factor when developing genetics and/or rations is to eliminate any variables.  That enables the effect of a single change to be clearly identified.  Ostrich has the same potential, but only when we have sufficient turnover of volume.   In contrast cattle usually produce only one progeny per annum and sheep twins or maybe triplets.

The potential for ostrich production to improve significantly is tremendous as no genetic work has yet been carried out.  However, as can be seen, it requires volume production to support the development work.

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