Breaking up families can be sad, but in a new method for selecting passive livestock animals, that’s a main ingredient for better long-term productivity, according to a Purdue University geneticist.
Purdue animal science geneticist William Muir used Japanese quail for his latest study of animal behavior. Using his new breeding approach of picking individual animals that are passive in their behavior and housing them together, breeders can achieve higher long-term productivity. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Service photo/Tom Campbell)
The new breeding program, designed to get the best out of the animals, is the first major advance in classical breeding in 20 years, said William Muir of the Purdue Department of Animal Sciences. By picking less aggressive individual animals from a broad range of families, the same breeding program can be used for hundreds of generations.
The new program enables breeders to have optimal improvement in productivity while minimizing the health risks associated with inbreeding, he said. At the same time, the program overcomes competition among animals for resources that often means less aggressive animals suffer from lack of nutrition and increased injury. In a group composed of both aggressive and passive animals, even those at the top of the pecking order are harmed from overeating, which wastes food because their bodies can’t properly utilize the nutrition.
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