Technology Foundation STW and the business consortium Breed4Food have launched an ambitious new research programme that links many scientific disciplines with livestock breeding. The aim of the programme – known as the STW-Breed4Food Partnership – is to acquire new insights into sustainability, animal health and welfare and to improve efficiency.
STW and the Breed4Food consortium – consisting of four Dutch-based internationally operating livestock breeding firms and Wageningen UR – have invited scientists to submit innovative research proposals with which animal breeding can make even more effective use of developments in genomics. Interested scientists can discuss their ideas with the Breed4Food companies during a special matchmaking session at the STW Annual Congress. This congress will be held on 2 October in the NBC Congrescentrum in Nieuwegein.
Genomic information for more effective breeding
The STW-Breed4Food Partnership is focusing on the more effective use of genomic information to significantly improve the prediction of animal characteristics. On the one hand, this requires the development of advanced applications in statistics and bioinformatics. Such applications are essential to unravel the relationship between genetics and characteristics. On the other hand, this requires methods and expertise to measure characteristics such as behaviours, feed conversion efficiency and disease susceptibility. Cooperation between various disciplines is crucial to achieve this aim.
Reduced environmental burden and antibiotic use
Livestock breeding is an extremely knowledge-intensive sector. In the past, the primary commercial emphasis was on increased productivity. In recent decades, however, the emphasis has shifted increasingly to sustainability, food safety and animal welfare. Major research efforts are essential to reduce the ecological footprint and antibiotic use and to maintain optimal animal welfare.
Submitting research proposals
The STW-Breed4Food Partnership is a programme component of the Partnership funding instrument. With Partnership, STW is challenging researchers to come up with research ideas to tackle problems and wishes from businesses. Each research proposal must involve at least two different universities/research institutes. The budget for the STW-Breed4Food Partnership is €3 million.
The Breed4Food consortium consists of the livestock breeding firms CRV (cattle), Cobb Europe (poultry), Hendrix Genetics (poultry, pigs and fish), and Topigs Norsvin (pigs), together with the knowledge institute Wageningen UR. The breeding firms have advanced breeding expertise, hundreds of employees and are active in many countries. Wageningen UR has the knowledge and facilities to conduct DNA analyses and to interpret the genomic information.