What is natural selection?
Successful animal breeding is based on improving natural qualities and desired traits. Our breeding programs focus on selection of the best animals for a specific market. No gene editing or genetically modified organisms (GMO) appear in our breeding programs. Everything is based on what we can achieve naturally. And how accurately and efficiently we can select animals.
The rate of genetic progress is determined by:
- How long it takes before the next generation is born (The generation interval)
- The accuracy of breeding values used
- The selection intensity (Size of the selection group and number of animals chosen)
- The genetic variability of the trait
Selecting the best animals
Defining a set of desirable qualities or traits is not easy and can change over time. These traits are determined by the demands downstream in the value chain. Growth, survivability and number of offspring are all examples of traits. We then choose animals that can pass the traits we want to improve on to the next generation.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms provide us with information about an animal’s potential. The mapping of the complete DNA of an animal provides a whole library of billions of base pairs.
A small proportion of these base pairs are Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs. These SNP’s are the basis of genomic selection. Through this technology, a large number of SNP’s are selected across the genome. At certain locations, they differ between siblings. We link SNP's to differences in performance.
This gives a more accurate estimation of an animal’s potential.
Genomic selection means the best breeding animals can be selected at a younger age. This reduces generation interval and increases breeding valueaccuracy.
34 research farms and 3 laboratories
Hendrix Genetics has research farms across the globe. We house our pure line animals in these farms. To test the health and preserve biosecurity we have two diagnostic laboratories. For all our genomics research we use our own Genomics Laboratory. Here we extract DNA and store the samples. Our geneticists analyze the data. The state-of-the art resources mean they can make the best decisions in animal breeding. The data is also used in important collaborations with a comprehensive, international science network.
The DNA library
The R&D lab has a BioBank that stores all tissue or blood samples of breeding stock. Bar-coded samples are handled by robots, so that human errors are avoided in processing. The stored samples span many farms and generations. They are used for analysis of molecular data.