The role of research and a seed stock industry in the in situ conservation of livestock genetic resources
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Scholtz, M.M. 2006. The role of research and a seed stock industry in the in situ conservation of livestock genetic resources. In: Rege, J.E.O.; Nyamu, A.M.; Sendalo, D. (eds.). 2006. The role of biotechnology in animal agriculture to address poverty in Africa: Opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of the 4th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture and the 31st annual meeting of Tanzania Society for Animal Production, Arusha, Tanzania, 20–24 September 2005. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: TSAP and Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.
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Africa is richly endowed with large numbers of indigenous livestock breeds. However, there is a perception that a major constraint to livestock production is the limited genetic potential of these breeds. This paper uses the Nguni from South Africa as an example, and demonstrates the role of research in addressing such misconceptions. Initial studies on the Nguni in the early 1980s indicated that the Nguni has the shortest calving interval of all beef breeds and its efficiency exceeded that of most breeds. This resulted in a revived interest in the Nguni from the seed stock industry, and the Nguni is currently numerically the sixth largest beef breed in the country. The seed stock industry requires breeds to be competitive, hence a need for selection. This is in contrast to keeping animals in their natural state, which implies a breed should remain the same and be frozen in time.