Youngs, Curtis R. Animal Science Department, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Freeman, A. E. Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Methods of genetic selection
- Factors influencing genetic selection progress
- Purebred strains
- Quantitative genetics
- Reproductive physiology
- Molecular genetics
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The application of genetic principles for improving heredity for economically important traits in domestic animals. The science of animal breeding is based on fundamental genetic concepts. Through controlled mating and selection, which can involve genetic engineering methods, animal breeders attempt to modify animal species with respect to one or more phenotypic traits (Fig. 1). Examples of trait modification include improvement of milk production in dairy cattle, meatiness in pigs, growth rate in beef cattle, fleece weight in sheep, and egg production in chickens. Even after thousands of years of domestication, domestic animals respond readily to genetic selection. Selection permits the best parents to leave more offspring in the next generation than do genetically inferior parents. Many specialized breeds and strains have been developed for the production of meat, fiber, and milk that are adapted to different environmental and economic conditions. See also: Agricultural science (animal); Beef cattle production; Dairy cattle production; Domestication (anthropology); Genetic engineering; Genetics; Poultry production; Sheep; Swine production
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