As of 2010, we have been using genomic selection in our breeding program. This technology is one of the latest breakthroughs in breeding technology. Genomic selection means the best breeding animals can be selected at a younger age. This reduces generation interval and increases breeding value accuracy. Genomic selection allows our geneticists to estimate the genetic potential of animals even more accurately. The genetic potential of an animal can be predicted by looking at markers (SNP's) located throughout the genome. With this technology, the rate of genetic gain can be increased substantially.
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.