Using genomic technology to reduce mastitis in meat sheep
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Mastitis is a problem encountered by many livestock species throughout the world. Most information currently available refers to how the disease affects dairy breeds of cattle and small ruminants, with few acknowledging its impact in meat sheep breeds. However, the disease can have a considerable effect on meat sheep, costing the industry millions of pounds each year due to poorer animal performance, increased medical costs and the premature culling of animals. The aim of this project, which commenced in 2015 in collaboration with the British Texel Sheep Society, is to investigate the genetic aspects of this disease in more detail using genomic technologies to reduce the prevalence of mastitis and allow the genetic selection of mastitis-resistant animals. Approximately 3500 pure- and crossbred Texel sheep, selected based on their influence in the population, will be genotyped. The high density (700K) and low density (50K and 1K) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) beadchips will be used for genotyping. The mastitis resistance traits analysed will include: i) farmer records of mastitis, ii) udder and teat conformation, iii) somatic cell counts and iv) California Mastitis Test. Genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs) for mastitis resistance, in addition to current breeding goal traits, will be generated with the BLUPf90 package using the single-step method. Phenotyping strategies deemed the most appropriate for predicting mastitis resistance, and which are suitable for breeders to carry out on-farm, will be also identified. Overall, it is anticipated that the ability to deliver the first GEBVs for mastitis resistance in meat sheep, in addition to identifying the most appropriate phenotypes for breeders to record, will provide the tools to achieve improved animal welfare and production and increase overall sustainability.
Other Titles/Title of Conference
66th European Federation of Animal Science Annual Meeting, Warsaw, Poland