Introduction

The exchange of animal genetic resources has resulted in major increases in livestock productivity and/or increased market acceptability of livestock products. In the Americas the importation of livestock species and breeds from Europe, Asia, and Africa has made significant contributions to the vitality of the livestock sector. As producers within countries have developed their animal genetic resources, there has been an impetus from breeders in other countries to want to explore how those breeds or strains produce in their own production system. Such explorations have over time proved to be beneficial in altering livestock productivity. For example, during the 1970s and 1980s, numerous cattle breeds were imported into the United States from continental Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Many of the imported cattle breeds played a significant role in U.S. livestock production (e.g., Charolais, Simmental, Limousin). Other key examples are the U.S. Holstein in its role as a global breed for milk production, and the impact the South African Boer goat has had on the U.S. meat goat sector. All these examples underscore the importance of being able to exchange genetic resources. It is anticipated that as the livestock industry and consumer demands change, there will be a need to develop new genetic combinations to address those needs. These new genetic combinations will be developed from existing genetic resources within countries or acquired from other countries.

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