Breeding stock is a group of animals used for planned breeding. When people are looking to breed animals, they look for certain valuable traits in purebred animals. They may also intend to use some type of crossbreeding to produce a new type of stock with different, and presumably superior abilities in a given area of endeavour.(Wikipedia)
In this post;
- What is a quality breeding stock selection?
- What are the criteria for selecting animals for breeding?
- Quality breeding stock selecting tools
- Traits to consider when selecting breeding stock
- Types of management and performance record.
1. What is a livestock breeding stock selection?
- It is the method by which the flock is improved.
- Selection is deciding which animals will be parents, how often they will be parents and for how long they will be parents.
2. What are the criteria for selecting animals for breeding?
- By visual appearance which is also known as phenotype (genetics and environment). This is done by just observing the animal physical features to select. It is done through body conformation and muscling characteristics of animals.
- An animal can also be selected based on performance(record keeping). This is the most reliable source to use when making a selection to improve the genetic makeup of your flock.
- Selection based on economic traits. For example meat, milk, disease resistance, larger littering and healthy younger ones.
3. Quality breeding stock selecting tools
Livestock breeding can be a complex operation. However, with these tools, the farmer is well equipped to breed livestock and produce enough information for the operations.
- Have a unique identification system for individual animal in the flock.
- Establish performance pedigree recording systems.
- Collect relevant data on breeding, reproduction, production, growth and carcass quality.
- Evaluate growth potential of younger ones based on body weight gain measured by weighing periodically.
- Record mortality and morbidity.
Read also: Importance of Farm Records Keeping
4. Traits to consider when selecting quality breeding stock
The birth weight of livestock varies with kind. However, there is the standard weight of the various livestock at birth. The minimum standard weight of the livestock at birth must be attained to make selections. Records on birth weight that show a consistent birth weight of offsprings below the minimum shows an obvious trait from the mother. Reject those animals during selection.
The weight at birth can influence this factor. If the newborn livestock does not have a good weight at birth then it is likely it will not make the average weight for selections. This may also show bad parenting by the mother.
6 months weight
As said earlier, there are standard weights of various livestock at the various stages of life. At 6 months old, the livestock might have gained weight alright, but this still may fall below the minimum standard weight for the age. You must reject livestock with such traits.
In this case, the livestock eats the required feed but does not grow. If you select such animal for the purpose of milk or meat, you are very likely to run a loss. Lower feed efficiency means spending so much on feeding a livestock and not having them convert it to meat or milk or any desired product for which you acquired it.
If the records show abortion after conception on several occasions, then you have a reason not to select such livestock. However, you first have to check this against other factors and against other livestock exposed to the same conditions of feed, housing, weather and others.
An example is where a pig litters 15 offsprings and only 8 survives up to the stage of weaning. This may be due to harsh environmental conditions or poor mothering from the mother. If poor mothering becomes a very consistent occurrence with the particular mother, then it is a problem with the trait and you must not select that livestock.
Litter size and weight
A consistent large litter size with standard weights of offsprings indicates a good trait and may be selected. Otherwise, reject it. Always check litter size and weight against the standard for the livestock before making your selection.
Carcass yield quality
Dressing percentage is the amount of muscle against the other parts of the carcass that makes the body weight. A livestock may look big but carcass shows more fat than muscles. This could mean that the animal converts feed into more fat than muscle. Another example is when the animal may look muscular, however, carcass shows a small amount of muscle and rather heavy bones. This is not a good trait if you are selecting for meat production.
You can also assess the carcass yield by feeling the ribs. This will tell you how much meat the livestock can produce if you are selecting for meat production.
Fat thickness over the rib-eye
The fat thickness over the rib-eye can be assessed after dressing. This will show the amount of fat over the rib area as against the amount of muscle.
Carcass conformation and muscle
The farmer desires more meat and less fat. If the records who a particular animal produces less meat and more fat, it should not be selected.
Mortality and morbidity rates
In quality breeding stock selection, you may also want to consider the rate and how easily the animal is affected and dies from diseases. The farmer must keep very good records to tell this trait.
Tolerance or resistance to parasite
Like the previous point, you want to have a livestock with the trait that makes them very tolerant or resistant to parasites. Livestock with such traits is able to do well in a different environment. It also costs less to raise livestock. with such traits.
You may also want to select animals with good resistance to disease. In other words, animals who will not die easily when attacked by a disease. In the event of disease outbreaks, which is common in livestock production, livestock with such traits are so desirable.
5. Types of management and performance records
Now, let’s look at the records to keep in livestock management concerning quality breeding stock selection. These records will also be the reference for the farmer trying to acquire livestock for production.
Performance records can be kept on printed cards, in books or on electronic forms to help make them accurate.
Example of records to keep are;
The data is collected on the animals and along their family lines. The data helps to minimize the use of animals that are closely related in mating. It may help to prevent inbreeding.
Production and reproduction data
This data would include dates of mating, gestation, parturition and other related records on the animal.
This data covers the animals you selected for crossing
Health records help to determine the livestock’s tolerance to diseases and pest. It may also tell the number of deaths of livestock resulting from outbreaks of diseases.
Financial records must be taken to show costs of producing a particular livestock and the profitability in producing the livestock. Low feed efficiency, low resistance/tolerance to disease and pest, low carcass yield all indicates a high cost of production and lower returns. Keeping financial shows how much is spent on an animal and how much is gained from the particular animal.
Having a sound and reliable herd/stock management performance system will help producers to;
- Select superior breeding stock and replacement.
- Identify top producing males and females.
- Identify and cull unproductive animals
- Add value to animals to be marketed by providing potential buyers with relevant production data.
The success of livestock production begins from quality breeding stock selection and records keeping is a key component of that.