Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems
Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems

WP5 Use of traits in animal selection (Genetic parameter estimations, genetic model developments & evaluation of breeding schemes)

WP leader: Hélène Gilbert (INRA)
Involved partners: INRA, WUR, IRTA, TOPIGS, COBB, INCO, IFIP

Objectives

The objective of WP5 is to explore new traits and models for estimating breeding values for feed efficiency, and to identify new strategies to use these in breeding programmes without impairing product quality, welfare and robustness considering the diversity of production environments and feed resources in the EU, and anticipating the effects of climate change on production systems. In this WP, we will:

  • validate the potential of new on-farm measured heritable traits to predict breeding values for feed efficiency, robustness and welfare;
  • propose criteria and methodologies to quantify variability in gut microbiota as a heritable trait influencing feed efficiency, robustness and welfare;
  • produce new genetic models to better predict the individual variability of feed efficiency, robustness and welfare;
  • develop new selection strategies for feed efficiency to account for crossbred performance and genomic information, accounting for correlated impacts on the animals’ sensitivity to environmental changes, product quality, environmental impact and welfare traits;
  • validate the importance and use of social effects and crossbred data for improving selection for feed efficiency.

WP5 will benefit from new knowledge and data generated in the Feed-a-Gene project in terms of new feed resources for animals (WP1), new traits for innovative feeding and breeding (WP2) and model-derived traits of feed efficiency and robustness (WP3).

Approach

WP5 will revisit existing data and samples available from the partners, involving different breeding systems or climatic conditions. WP5 will carry out genetic analyses on trials designed to propose novel traits for feed efficiency (WP2). Specific trials will be run to generate new data, in particular including records on welfare, robustness and product quality associated to new feed resources (WP1), and for demonstration of selection strategies. Data will originate from purebred and crossbred pigs from conventional (TOPIGS, IFIP, and INRA) and alternative breeding systems (IRTA, INRA), from crossbred poultry from conventional populations (Cobb), and from experimental lines in pigs, poultry and rabbits (INRA and IRTA). Genetic parameters for new traits related to feed efficiency will be derived using conventional genetic approaches, and revisited models will be developed. New breeding strategies, including genomic information, crossbred data, and indirect indicators of feed efficiency will be explored to propose new selection indexes while accounting for the economic impact on welfare, robustness, and product quality. Results will be shared for the generation of new feeding strategies (WP4) and new models and tools of nutrient utilisation (WP3). The results will also be used for the sustainability assessment of new production systems (WP6).

  • Task 5.1: Genetics of components of feed efficiency and robustness indicators (M1 – M48)
  • Task 5.2: Genetic relationships between the gut microbiota and feed efficiency (M1 – M48)
  • Task 5.3: Statistical-genetic modelling of feed efficiency and robustness features (M1 – M48)
  • Task 5.4: Selection strategies to account for crossbred and genomic data for a sustainable selection for feed efficiency (M12 – M60)
  • Task 5.5: Demonstration of the value of social interactions and crossbred information in selection to improve feed efficiency (M1-M60)