Abstract

In contrast to extensively managed livestock for which there is limited capability to alter the environment at a location, modem poultry, swine and dairy production involves intensive management with considerable ability to manage nutrient intake and some ability to modify temperatures from weather conditions at a location to keep ambient conditions in the comfort zone of the livestock. These abilities have led to genetic improvements primarily being directed to increased production — more milk, more eggs or greater growth — with secondary emphasis on quality aspects of the product. A production system is usually arranged that will provide the necessary greater feed intake, shifts in feed composition and optimum ambient temperatures to support this increased performance. If the value of the increased production exceeds the increased feed costs, the combined change is economically advantageous. The effects of diseases are usually controlled by nongenetic means but elimination and control of pathogens have become an additional responsibility of the breeder. The observations raise the question for discussion of how far will and should this combined trend of genetics and supporting environment continue for intensive livestock production. Should there be exceptions to this observed trend? The trend seems to only be limited by economic practicality.

D. L Harris

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 27: Reproduction; fish breeding; genetics and the environment; genetics in agricultural systems; disease resistance; animal welf, , 207–214, 1998
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