Betagro Group first in Southeast Asia to adopt genomic selection in swine breeding

General Press Releases Thursday December 12, 2013 17:11
Bangkok--12 Dec--Betagro Group

Betagro Group has teamed up with Khon Kaen University, Chiang Mai University and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to implement genomic selection in swine breeding – the first in Southeast Asia – that yields more accurate and efficient prediction of estimated breeding values in pigs than other traditional breeding models. This provides many positive advantages for farmers and consumers, and helps reduce the country’s dependence on imported breeder pigs while providing a competitive edge in livestock development.

Betagro Group, veterinarian Angsana Horcharoen, Assistant Vice President of Swine Business said, “At Betagro, we have always valued the importance of product quality, and to take this to a higher level we are working closely with Khon Kaen University, Chiang Mai University and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) to calculate a genomic estimated breeding value (GEBV) in swine breeding. The GEBV is based on genomic evaluation using a genetic marker in the form of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) from all the genes across the entire genome of an individual. In pigs we have available a DNA test for over 60,000 genetic markers to see if, and by how much, pigs with one of the genetic types differ from pigs with the other genetic type. Unlike traditional gene marker technology in the form of marker-assisted selection (MAS), which explains only a limited part of the genetic differences between individuals, this new model offers 40% more accurate and efficient genomic evaluation, and encourages the genetic enhancement in swine population, allowing for a variety of pork quality traits and accelerated developments in genomics. This research and development programme will take around three years to complete.

“Application of new genomics tools in genomic selection and livestock development, especially in the swine production industry, has been increasingly recognised and the wave of genomic evolution is spreading across the world, including in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Compared with traditional breeding methods, genomic selection also makes possible further opportunities to improve selection accuracy while decreasing overall production costs.”

She also said, “The genomics collaboration is the first of its kind in Thailand and Southeast Asia, resulting in pigs with better quality traits being more accessible topig farmers. It also helps reduce the country’s dependence on imported breeder stocks with preferred characteristics such as high growth rates, good health, increased resistance to diseases and weather conditions, as well as consistent heritability, productivity and profitability for those in the supply side of the industry. Additionally, consumers will benefit from better pork quality with highly marbled red meat without the use of beta-agonists. By delivering high-quality pork that meets market requirements, the country’s overall swine production industry can generate greater competitive advantages.”

A major research benefit is that swine genetic data identified throughout the genome will enable breeding specialists to predict the genetic value of animals from birth to reproduction with confidence, improve selection accuracy while decreasing the costs, reducing generation intervals, and accelerating the production of swine breeder stocks to replace aging populations. Other benefits include the ability to enable effective breeder pig screening, a better match for reproduction and breeding efficiency in addition to the identification of animal characteristics directly associated with economic values, lineage DNA testing and other essential traceability features.

As an example of Betagro Group’s achievements in genomic selection, the new swine breed, Be 91, has been proved to offer high resistance to stress, rich red meat, high-quality piglets for fattening, excellent heritability and exceptional tolerance to Thailand’s tropical conditions. Ideal for most Thai pig farmers, the breed yields more pounds of marbled red meat with fine streaks of fat, and is best for the food service industry in Thailand including upscale restaurants, general food shops and airline catering companies.

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