• What is Population Genetics?

    But breeding is not about improving an individual animal per se — once it has been born you can’t refine it further by tinkering with its genome. Breeding is really about improving populations of animals, such that those individuals that are born are collective improvements on their ancestors. Those individuals, collectively, then provide the genetic base that will improve their descendants, and so on. more »
  • Harlequin Appaloosa Alpaca Genetics

    For many breeders, the key to consistent Harlequin Appaloosa alpaca color production has been a closely guarded secret. Because of the rarity, and increasing popularity, of this coloring, many breeders feel that this secrecy is critical to protect the gene's value. Their logic is certainly not invalid. I have seen this scenario played out in many, many animal industries throughout my lifetime, and I can attest that if a color is rare and valuable, there will be breeders out there who will seek to cash in on that popularity. These breeders will produce color for the sake of color, and will flood the market, thus eliminating the added “rarity factor” value. This is unfortunate, but the fact is that it is also inevitable. Serious, committed Harlequin Appaloosa breeders need to look beyond the “rarity factor” and focus on the future, which is quality. In order to produce quality Harlequin Appaloosas, however, we must first understand how to consistently produce Harlequin Appaloosas, so that we can focus on the quality and not the color. more »
  • Sire Genetics, Protein Supplementation and Gender Effects on Wool Comfort Factor in Australian Crossbred Sheep

    Aims: To investigate the effects of sire genetics, nutrition, level of supplementation, gender and their interactions on wool comfort factor (CF) and its correlation with other wool quality traits in crossbred sheep either grazing or supplemented with dietary protein. Study design: A 5 x 2 x 2 x 2 factorial experimental design comprising five sire breeds, two dietary protein sources, two supplementation levels and two sexes respectively, was utilized. Place and Duration of Study: University of Tasmania Farm, Cambridge, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, between April 2008 and November 2010. Methodology: Texel, Coopworth, White Suffolk, East-Friesian and Dorset sires were joined with 500 Merino ewes at a mating ratio of 1:100 in individual paddocks. Five hundred of the crossbred progeny were raised on pastures until weaning at 12 weeks of age. Forty of the weaners with an initial body weight (BW) range of 23-31 kg (average of 27 ± 3.2 kg) were fed with lupins or canola at 1 or 2% BW for 6 weeks in individual metabolic crates. CF and other wool quality traits were commercially measured at the Australian Wool Testing Authority, Melbourne. The data were analyzed in SAS using MIXED model procedures with sire fitted as a random effect, while sire breed, nutrition, supplement, level of supplementation and gender and their interactions were fitted as fixed effects. Results: CF was significantly correlated with fiber diameter (-0.89), spinning fineness (-0.95) and wool curvature (0.33). Grass-fed sheep produced wool with significantly higher comfort factor (93.1±0.3%) than supplemented sheep (CF=85.9±1.1%). Sire genetics was a significant source of CF variation; White Suffolk crosses had the highest CF (90.1±8.7) and East-Friesian crosses the least (81.5 ± 10.1%). Males fed canola at 1%BW had the highest CF (90.8 ± 7.0%), while females fed lupins at 1% BW had the least (81.1±10.8%). Conclusion: From a practical point of view, sheep farmers engaging in prime lamb production with wool comfort factor as an additional breeding objective should concentrate their effort on grass-feeding White Suffolk x Merino wethers. During the winter feed gap, supplementing the wethers with canola at 1% BW will not compromise wool CF. more »
  • New Opportunities in Genetics and Genomics

    A collection of articles on new opportunities in genetics and genomics. more »
  • Horse Color Genetics

    It is easy to understand horse color genetics at a basic level, since the basic coat colors of black, bay, brown and chestnut (including sorrel) are controlled by relatively few genes and not radically affected by the environment. On this horse color genetics page you will find a discussion of these genes and their affects on the phenotype (external appearance) of various colors and shades of horse. more »

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