Achieving production targets within a breeding enterprise is assisted by developing a breeding program that utilises genetic and reproduction knowledge and technologies.
The productive potential of an animal is defined by its genetic makeup which then interacts with environmental factors, such as nutrition, to determine the extent to which the potential is realised.
Using the best available genetics allows producers to potentially improve the animal's contribution to enterprise profit, and reproductive management aims to ensure that the desirable genes that have been selected are transferred from one generation to the next.
Breeding objectives and selection
An enterprise's breeding program begins by defining a breeding objective. A breeding objective describes the 'ideal' animal a producer aims to breed and is influenced by market requirements which are reflected in market specifications.
Once a producer has developed a breeding objective that reflects market requirements, livestock that demonstrate traits that suit the breeding objective can be selected.
Visual and genetic assessment
Selection should consider both subjectively measured traits, such as those measured through visual assessment, and objectively measured traits, such as those identified through measurement or genetic assessment.
The difficult task of selecting breeding stock based on genetic assessment is made easier and more precise through estimated breeding values (EBVs) for cattle and goats and Australian sheep breeding values (ASBVs) for sheep.
Reproductive management is an important factor affecting the economics and profitability of livestock production enterprises. It forms the basis of genetic herd or flock improvement and is central to weaning more livestock .