In a candid focus group discussion with FarmingFarmersFarms, professionals and graduates in the field of animal science gathered to explore the pivotal question: “Why genetics in animal production?”. The diverse perspectives of Tayo, a graduate of Agriculture from the University of Ibadan; Olabode, an Animal Science alumnus from the University of Maiduguri; Segun, specialising in Animal Health and Production from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB); and Taiwo, a graduate of Agricultural Science and Education from the University of Ilorin, shed light on the significance of genetics in shaping the future of animal farming.
For Tayo, the essence of genetics in animal agriculture lies in its ability to offer a holistic approach to breeding practices. “As we have learnt both practically and theoretically, genetics allows us as farmers and new generation scientist to selectively breed animals with desirable traits, whether it be for improved meat quality, disease resistance, or enhanced reproductive performance. It’s about optimising the genetic potential of our livestock to meet the evolving demands of the agricultural landscape”, as Tayo also added that genetics in animal agriculture had been in practice since the times of our forefathers as some of theme have the ability to identify and select animals with the best traits and characteristics to contribute to the next generation. This act is purely genetics, he added and in simple genetic terms, it is simply introduction and selection.
Olabode, from the University of Maiduguri, emphasised the importance of genetics in developing resilient and adaptable livestock. “In regions with diverse climates like Nigeria that we all know to be in the tropics, genetic selection, as pointed earlier by Tayo, can play a crucial role in developing breeds that can thrive in various environmental conditions. This adaptability is vital for ensuring sustainable and productive animal agriculture”, Olabode added that it is one of the approaches that he is applying in his current animal production project, which he declared to be secret, but cited examples of raising Hoslteing-fressian type of cattle breed in Nigeria and also chicken breeds that could naturally not survive the conditions in the tropics.
However, from a perspective of health and productivity, Segun highlighted the role of genetics in disease resistance and overall animal well-being. He noted that selecting for genetic traits that confer resistance to common diseases not only improves the health of the herd but also contributes to increased productivity. Healthy animals are productive animals, as Segun remarked and praised some interesting animal genetic related project that he is well aware of, the Funaab Alpha Chicken, which was run by Prof. Oluwafunmilayo Adebambo of FUNAAB; a well renowned animal geneticist in Nigeria. Furthermore, Taiwo, with a background in Agricultural Science and Education, brought attention to the educational aspect of genetics in animal agriculture. “Understanding genetics is not only about implementing it on the field, but also about educating the next generation of farmers. It plays a pivotal role in shaping agricultural curriculum and ensuring that future farmers are well-versed in advanced breeding techniques”.
In unanimous agreement, the participants concluded that genetics in animal agriculture is not merely a trend, but a necessity for sustainable and efficient farming practices. It empowers farmers to make informed breeding decisions, enhances the resilience of livestock, improves overall health, and plays a crucial role in educating the future stewards of the agricultural industry. As the discussion wrapped up, it was evident that the integration of genetics into animal agriculture is not just a science but a pathway to a more resilient, productive, and sustainable future for the industry.