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CRB Anim

Support to livestock sector

Support to livestock sector
Animal breeding and related products or activities

Livestock production is an important economic sector in France representing about 26 billions euros (Table 9). The industrial actors are breeding companies and breeding organisations that will be represented in the stakeholders committee. Several have provided support letters to CRB-Anim, included in the annex (Pig breeding, Horse breeding, Ruminants breeding, Poultry and aquaculture breeding) which clearly confirm the usefulness of the materials stored and services proposed by CRB-Anim. Since 2008, the dairy breeding industry (UNCEIA) is investing around 3 M€ each year in partnership with INRA and LABOGENA for genomic selection.

Other actors are food companies and animal health companies working for the livestock sector which could take into account breeds’ diversity in their product development.


Several types of technical returns are foreseen:

  • Insurance in case of sanitary crisis

In a recent past, sanitary crisis have emerged in Europe due to epizootic diseases, such as avian influenza, foot and mouth diseases or mad-cow disease with high cost for society and for farmers: the UK eradication programme of foot and mouth disease epizooty led some regional sheep breeds to disappear and motivated the HeritageSheep European project. During such crisis, massive sanitary eradication programmes may be set up, which threaten local breeds of disappearing and may weaken major breeds under selection. This risk is increasing with the current trend towards open-air production systems, particularly for pigs and poultry, which are more sensitive to the spreading of pathogens. Furthermore, global change and environmental perturbations may also increase disease risks in the future. Collections of the cryobank will be available to restore selected or experimental populations. Collections may harbour disease resistance genes that are rare, or even lost, in commercial populations, as seen with the sheep breed Roussin de la Hague for the scrapie disease.

The main benefit will be to limit the negative impact of a sanitary crisis on the activity of farmers and to improve the reactivity and competitiveness of the French livestock sector in case of crisis. 

  • improving efficiency and safety of breeding programmes

French aquaculture hatcheries are European leaders for the export of juveniles (Aquabreeding survey). EU has established a strategy for a sustainable aquaculture (http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/aquaculture/strategy/index_fr. htm and http://agriculture.gouv.fr/mission-sur-le-developpement-de-l) which requires the protection and conservation of Europe genetic resources. Since 2010, industry is supporting two pioneering breeding programs initiated on Pacific oyster to select against a dramatic summer mortality due to a herpes virus which is threatening the whole chain. Elite breeders will be transferred to the industry after tetraploidisation of the diploid selected family. Therefore the conservation of such genotypes is strategic for the industry but also for future research. Development of sperm cryopreservation technology to other mollusk species (abalone, flat oyster, mussels, pearl oyster in Tahiti) will enable industrial diversification and limit the economic impact of mortality in the oyster production.

Regarding horse breeding, the set up of the blood bank by LABOGENA will provide reference samples for future changes in technologies of traceability, such as the switch from microsatellite markers to SNP markers. The bank will save 1 M€ euros that would have been necessary for additional collections of all sires and dams (100000 samples, 10€ each) needed to establish the traceability system for a new technology

Cattle breeding is undergoing a major change with the onset of genomic selection and the international project of sequencing 1000 genomes. The semen stored for dairy cattle in the national cryobank currently represents a capital of 2.4 M€. In the near future, genotypes of candidates to selection will be characterized with a very high resolution, making possible to identify specific gene combinations of high value. Coupling cryobank and genomic collections will make possible to trace carriers of such gene combinations and to introduce them in current breeding programmes. Elite breeders in dairy cattle have a high economic value, carriers of a rare and desirable genotype may see the price of their semen increased 5 fold (20 to 100 euros). Other species, mainly pigs and poultry, are on the way to the use of genomic selection and will benefit from the same approach.


  • product diversification and niche markets with employment in rural areas

Local products with a high quality (Certified origin) are developed to meet societal needs for typical products which are often associated with a local breed. (Dubeuf et al., 2010; Lambert-Derkimba et al., 2010). In the dairy sector, products of certified origin represent 1. 5 billions euros on the food market according to INAO.

A weak point of these programmes is the threat of increased inbreeding. Using frozen semen to enlarge the choice of breeding males is a key tool to monitor genetic variability in such local breeds and improve the sustainability of these products. Cryobank services will be extended to the management ofin situpopulations of limited size, by a rational use of males sampled from the collection. Procedures will be developed to organise the support to these management programmes. A pilot project will be set up for the revival of high quality meat products from Basque and Gascogne breeds, which maintain also employment in their respective areas. Material of the Cryobank has been used already in a rescue programme of local, endangered breeds, such as the programme on the pig breed ‘Porc Blanc de l’Ouest’ (PBO) which has produced 49% of the males currently in use and has decreased average inbreeding by a few %. CRB-Anim will set up a demonstration project to monitor inbreeding in 2 pig breeds, including PBO, with 4 series of thawing semen (8 breed*serie combinations in total) it will last between years 2and 8 of the project with a checkpoint at year 5.

Local breeds and local products contribute also to cultural and touristic attractivity of rural areas and regional authorities regularly support development programmes of local breeds.