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Livestock Breeding Facts And Methods

For centuries farmers have been using all sorts of different methods to improve their livestock. Today’s breeders like to put their animals into livestock shows where they are judged on their quality. To produce the best possible specimen these breeders engage in various breeding methods.

One of the main reasons some of these farmers are involved in different breeding techniques is for the money. The better the animal they can produce the more that animal is worth, as well as its offspring. No breeder wants to breed their animals with weak animals. They want to breed with the healthiest possible match.

Select breeding produces animals that are less likely to be sickly. They are better able to handle the challenges of life on the farm. They produce better meat and improve on many of their regular qualities through the breeding process. They are less likely to become diseased and infect other animals and people as well.

Today’s modern breeders have many breeding options available to them that have already been tested and proven to work. They are applying these techniques to their animals and getting good results.

Only certain animals will be chosen for reproduction. The breeders base this decision on things like size, meat, milk, rate of growth, etc. This is what is known as ‘selective breeding’. It’s a way for farmers to continually improve their herds. They choose only the healthiest and most fertile of their animals for breeding. The offspring inherit those top quality characteristics from their parents.

The 3 main methods used in selective breeding are –

1. Random Mating
2. Outbreeding
3. Inbreeding

and different farmers have different favorites from this list. They practice the methods they believe will produce the best offspring.

1. Random Mating – This method is the simplest form of livestock breeding. They simply put their chosen males and females together in the same area to mate.

2. Outbreeding – This method is used for breeding unrelated animals. Crossbreeding and Outcrossing are the 2 methods used. Crossbreeding is the process of breeding animals of different breeds. Their offspring possess a higher performance level than that of the average parents. Outcrossing is a mating of unrelated animals who are the same breed. This method enables the farmers to introduce a specific desired trait into their livestock line.

3. Inbreeding – This is the mating of animals that are closely related. It’s a way of producing a pure breed. Livestock owners choose their animals for inbreeding based on pedigrees (traits of the animal’s ancestors). The ones that are closely related share similar genes which naturally get passed down to their offspring.

The offspring may come out carrying some of the most favorable traits of the parents. However, in some cases more of the unfavorable genes prove to be dominant, producing smaller, sickly animals. Inbreeding is a risky proposition.

Artificial Insemination

Lots of breeders use this method for improving their livestock. They take diluted semen from an animal of high quality and inject it into the reproductive tract of the female animal of their choice for fertilization. This method helps to increase the number of new offspring they can produce, passing on the superior qualities of the males.

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