New technologies affecting livestock improvement are identified in 1) manipulation of reproduction, 2) indirect assessment of the phenotype, 3) indirect assessment of breeding value, 4) computing and statistics, and 5) direct manipulation of the germ line. Multiple ovulation and embryo transfer (MOET) offers new opportunities in the improvement of traditional methods of livestock breeding and is a pre-requisite of many other technologies. Theoretical rates of genetic change may be doubled in beef cattle and sheep by use of MOET schemes and rates achieved in practice may be more than doubled because of the increased control over selection. Techniques to predetermine sex could affect breeding practices by creating new production systems and so consequently new breeding objectives. Improved methods of in-vivo carcass assessment are available for beef cattle and sheep improvement. Freezing of oocytes and semen or production of identical twins by embryo sp littin g could allow direct carcass assessment in animals. Marker assisted selection could theoretically improve rates of response but improvements would be small considering the technical effort involved. Computers make advanced systems of information use available to even small scale operations. Statistical advances tend to have concentrated on improving the accuracy of estimation of breeding values rather than the more important criterion of improving rates of response to selection. Many of the changes to the germ line that might be brought about by molecular genetic manipulation w ill add extra genetic variation (not always useful)for selection to exploit. Large changes w ill be more readily evaluated and used, and i f successful this could become the main method of genetic improvement in the future.

John P Gibson, C. Smith

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume XII. Biotechnology, selection experiments, parameter estimation, design of breeding systems, management of genetic resources., , 96–105, 1986
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