Breeding for better health and welfare in sheep - what is compromised if we do?
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Incorporating broader breeding goals into meat sheep breeding programmes such as traits that are important for health, welfare and maternal efficiency are important because they are often antagonistic to other breeding goals at a genetic level. This means that selection for higher productivity alone (e.g. lamb growth and litter size reared) can compromise animal welfare in the longer term particularly if new constraints (e.g. legislative) on farmers to control disease are introduced such as restrictions on the use of antimicrobials. Having key welfare indicators as new breeding goal traits, accurately recorded at birth and measured on animals of strategic importance in the population under selection, and under commercially-relevant rearing conditions widens the opportunity to select higher–performing sheep also with better innate ability to withstand disease in the future.
Other Titles/Title of Conference
Animal Production 2016, Adelaide, Australia
Australian Society of Animal Production