Animal breeding, genetics, and genomics is the branch of science concerned with maximizing desirable genetic traits, such as producing animals that have leaner meat. Animal geneticists have identified elements within genes that can enhance animal growth, health, and ability to utilize nutrients. These genetic advances can increase production while reducing environmental impacts.
Importance of Animal Breeding
Animals and livestock contribute 40 percent of the global value of agricultural output and contribute to the livelihoods and food security of almost a billion people worldwide. Advances in animal breeding, genetics, and genomics are facilitating a more efficient industry. For example, the number of cattle has decreased over the past decade, yet the total production of beef and milk has increased. This was largely possible because genetic advancements led better animal feed efficiency, which is critical to improving livestock production and lowering costs for producers.
NIFA’s initiatives are making advances in areas such as:
- Sequencing animal genomes to improve health, adaptability, and production
- Improving adaptability of animals to climate change and disease
- Improving livestock breeds to allow greater feed efficiency and other desirable traits
- Developing DNA-based technology to predict genetic merit for traits such as feed efficiency