A TECHNICAL PERSPECTIVE ON REDUCING LIMITATIONS TO GENETIC EXPRESSION

 

What is the biggest constraint or accelerator to genetic progress? People.

We collect information on every individual animal in our system to identify which ones will trend genetic progress upward, and ultimately provide a return on investment for our partners. From there, the daily data collection, selection choices and breeding decisions influence how fast and how aggressively that goal is realized. Despite an animal's genetic potential, their performance is dependent on the people supporting them.

Where are areas that we have to be mindful of in our day-to-day decisions?
Unclear expectations. Does the team know what influences your index and breeding goals? Do they know why the data they collect is important? Are they unintentionally selecting for an animal that doesn’t fit these goals? Making sure your team is well versed on your program and expectations helps focus their efforts on making intentional selections that drive progress towards your end goal.
Data integrity. Your expected progeny differences (EDPs) are only as good as the data you collect on the resulting animals — not all breeding programs are equal in the quality and accuracy of their data collection. It is easy to write a protocol down on a piece of paper, but it can be challenging to train and make sure it is being utilized. To ensure the integrity of data, you must start with a well-designed training platform that explains the details and value in a manner that can be consumed by today’s caretakers. Alongside that, you need to measure and audit the execution of these processes to verify your training system. Create a target metric around data quality as a benchmark for your team.
Disciplined selection. Having a dedicated and experienced team that is disciplined to maintain selection integrity against potential competing sales goals helps prevent drift from your core objectives. By understanding acceptable structure and phenotypes, and being tied in with production and your customers, your team can see the outcome of their selections. Our selection program is only as good as our understanding of where value is created for the commercial producer.
The root of many issues in a genetics program can be traced back to these three areas — we have to continually challenge ourselves with these questions:
  • Have we explained the WHY behind our breeding objectives?
  • Have we supported our people to ensure they are collecting data as effectively and accurately as possible?
  • Have we remained disciplined in selecting the right animals versus hitting a sales target?
  • Are we getting in the way of the animal expressing their genetic potential?
From my perspective, these are key items that will continue to determine our ability to drive and harvest genetic value. Technology will continue to support these areas — and we are striving to leverage technology advances to drive genetic progress — but we are still only as good as the people using the technology. The future of the swine industry is bright and we are excited to continue to drive value for our partners today and in the future.
Technical Expert: Ian Brooke, Director of Supply Chain and Operations
Ian Brooke joined Acuity in 2021 and serves as the Director of Supply Chain and Operations where he oversees the operations of nucleus farms and performance test centers as well as manages the supply chain infrastructure to deliver animals and genes to Acuity customers. Prior to joining Acuity, Ian was with The Maschhoffs for almost ten years after earning his degree in Animal Agribusiness at Purdue University.
Connect with Ian
Acuity was created in response to a need for genetic improvement with a systems-based focus. For nearly a decade, our technical team has worked to develop a platform capable of delivering solutions that increase profitability throughout the supply chain. Our focus is different: commercially-derived data supports decisions that enable value realization.
Build on a better foundation at www.acuityswine.com.