Feed-a-Gene: Use of traits in animal selection

My name is Hélène Gilbert, I work at INRA
in France and I’m here to present the results of the Feed-a-Gene project at the EAAP in
Tallinn. The aim of the Work Package 5 in Feed-a-Gene
is to put together new traits and new statistical models for selecting feed efficiency, and bring
them to the breeding programmes and the breeders to improve the selection of feed efficiency. Our Work package is very integrative as compared
to other Work Packages in Feed-a-Gene, in the sense that it brings together new measurements
for feed efficiency that are produced in Work Package 2 for example, with new conditions
for feeding the animals that are explored in other Work Packages, and statistical models
that we work on in Work Package 5. One of the main targets for selecting for feed
efficiency is to work on traits that will be measurable on farm, and that will be heritable. The idea of this is to have criteria that
have a variability that is transmitted from one generation to the next, and that is relatively
cheap to measure, so that we can record it on the maximum number of animals and select
very accurately for the trait we want to select. Another target that we recently developed
for selecting feed efficiency is the selection, or the study, of gut microbiota as a potential
new heritable trait. Until recently we did not have any tools to
measure gut microbiota individually in the animals, but with the advance of genomics
we do have new tools, so we are able to characterize the individual gut microbiota for selection. Our last target is to develop advanced statistical
models. What we call a genetic model is a model that
will be able to separate out the variability of the trait which depends on the genetics,
so it is transmitted from one generation to the next, and the variability of the trait
that is not transmitted. And the genetic models that we propose, for
example target the fact that animals are produced in groups, so they have their own performance,
but the performance is also affected by the effect of their pen-mates. In terms of outputs, they are relatively classic
in terms of types of outputs, that we produce for animal breeders. They are new measurements on new criteria
to better select for feed efficiency, components of feed efficiency, or components of robustness
to avoid to impair it while selecting for feed efficiency, and new methods that the breeders
will be able to implement in their selective programmes later on.

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