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5 National Programs The more highly developed the animal industry of a nation, the more compelling is its need to make provisions for preserving unusual or unique populations and to ensure access to the genetic diversity that will be required for future breeding programs. Countries differ markedly in the size and character of their animal populations, in the requirements for managing animal genetic resources, and in their capability to initiate and-support programs. Each coun- try should determine which of its animal populations are endangered and which merit protection. Nevertheless, national programs to manage genetic resources will have many common technical and organiza- tional elements. This chapter describes several national efforts and reviews the basic organizational elements of a national program. EXAMPLES OF CURRENT NATIONAL EFFORTS A number of national programs have been established, particu- larly in developed countries, and public and private initiatives are also in operation (Alderson, 1990a; Wiener, 1990~. Well-known and successful examples are programs of the Nordic countries and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the United Kingdom (Alderson, 1990b). In the United States, no organized federal program for maintain- ing the diversity of livestock animals exists. However, plans are under way for a national germplasm program, and the need for coor- dinated action at both national and international levels has been out- lined (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, 1984; Office 97
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98 / Livestock of Technology Assessment, 1987~. Private organizations actively in- volved in conservation efforts in the United States include the Ameri- can Minor Breeds Conservancy, which has pioneered practical pro- grams. Researchers affiliated with universities and agricultural experiment stations help to identify genetic resources or to maintain and develop germplasm resources, although not as much as breed associations or private industries do (Office of Technology Assessment, 1987~. Some developing countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, China, and India, have developed national strategies and established programs in the past 10 to 15 years. They are generally larger countries with many landraces, administrative and scientific infrastructures, trained personnel, and other resources. The following sections briefly sum- marize examples of public and private programs around the world. Hungary Preservation of old breeds started in Hungary in the 1950s as the result of individual efforts to save the last animals of traditional breeds. In 1973 the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food assigned responsibility for maintaining declining breeds to the Institute for Animal Breeding and Feed Control. The institute's program has fo- cused on endangered, traditional Hungarian livestock populations, including Hungarian Grey Steppe cattle, Mangalica pigs, Racka sheep, and Curly Feathered (Sebastapol) geese. With financial support from the government, state farms and cooperative farms have been main- taining noncommercial herds. Cryogenic germplasm banks have also been established for current use and as long-term stores. The re- search program associated with the preserved herds and flocks has included studies on the evolution and genetic structure of the breeds and evaluations under present production conditions (Maijala et al., 1984~. Hortobagy National Park, located in east central Hungary, is one of the most effective examples of a national or state park established as a conservation area to preserve national or regional rare breeds (Henson, 1990~. The conservation program at the park includes the protection of indigenous plants and wildlife as well as the perpetua- tion of regional skills and traditions of the plains farmers and their traditional breeds. The conservation program has its own state-funded budget, land at the park, and maintenance staff. Close links exist with university personnel, who control the breeding program and use the animals in extensive research. The park derives a portion of its budget from tourists.
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National Programs / 99 Brazil The Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA, Brazilian Agricultural Research Enterprise) was one of the first re- search institutions in Latin America to establish a preservation pro- gram for endangered animal genetic resources, following the recom- mendations of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) (Primo, 1987~. Through the Centro Nacional de Recursos Geneticos (CENARGEN, National Center for Genetic Resources) in Brazil, EMBRAPA is evaluating livestock populations of breeds that were originally in- troduced by European colonists. Over time these populations have acquired adaptive traits for Brazil's diverse ecological conditions. Today, however, many of them are in an advanced state of genetic dilution or in danger of extinction. Genetic conservation is achieved by main- taining breeding units or cryopreserved semen and embryos. In addition to maintaining a germplasm bank, CENARGEN has undertaken characterization studies to describe the genetic attributes of cattle types. EMBRAPA is evaluating purebreds and crossbreeds in a number of environments and production systems. These activi- ties are guided by a Brazilian national plan that was adopted in 1980 to implement activities for conserving animal genetic resources and to consider the conclusions of a technical consultation on conserva- tion and management held in Rome by FAO and UNEP in 1980. India The animal genetic resources of the Indian subcontinent are large and diverse. Important livestock populations include draft cattle, milk buffaloes, carpet wool sheep, and highly prolific goats. Many Indian breeds are adapted to tropical heat and diseases and poor quality feeds. To study indigenous livestock, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research created the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources at Karnal in the late 1980s. It will characterize, evaluate, and catalog livestock genetic resources, establish a data bank and information service on these resources, and determine the need of and steps for conserving and managing them. In addition to nine national research centers and species institutes, the council has di- rectorates on cattle and poultry improvement aIld breeding research projects that will cooperate with the bureau. The bureau will also undertake collaborative studies with state agricultural universities (Acharya, 1990~.
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100 / Livestock Nongovernmental Projects The Rare Breeds Sur~ri~ral Trust (RBST) in the United Kingdom Is . one of the best known of the nongovernment-funded organizations in the field of rare breed preservation. It is a privately funded and managed national charitable organization established in 1973 to en- sure both the survival of rare farm breeds that are part of Britain's agricultural heritage and a pool of genetic variation for future live- stock breeders (Alderson, 1985, 1986, l990b). It has about 8,500 members, 1,000 of whom are active in owning and breeding small groups of animals of rare breeds. Support comes entirely from private contri- butions and corporate grants. The RBST is an umbrella organization offering networking ser- vices to coordinate the voluntary activities of breeders of rare breeds, Farm parks act as educational visitor centers while conserving rare breeds. Here visitors at the Cotswold Farm Park admire a Whitefaced Woodland sheep, an endangered breed in Great Britain that produces fine wool. This breed was developed by King George III in the 1790s by crossing local moun- tain sheep with Merino sheep. Credit: Philip Harvey, Cotswold Farm Park.
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National Programs /101 including farm parks. Farm parks are independent centers owned and operated by individuals, land owning charities, or city councils. They are recognized by the RBST in an approved scheme that identi- fies those farm parks genuinely involved in rare breed preservation. They have large collections of rare breeds in breeding units, and the parks are open to the public as educational and visitor centers. They have proved to be a successful means of encouraging public interest in and support of conservation work. The conservation activities of the RBST include the establishment of procedures for defining rare breeds; the payment of subsidies to farmers for keeping rare cattle, horses, and pigs; recording pedigrees; and monitoring inbreeding, as needed, for rare breeds with no breed societies. Its staff members run workshops and livestock sales, give breeding advice, and produce a monthly magazine. The conservancy also seeks funding and helps to supply animals for scientific research and for evaluation of rare breeds. The only animals it owns are the North Ronaldsay sheep on the island of Linga Holm, Scotland. In cooperation with the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales, the RBST has established a cryogenic semen bank; samples from more than 100 bulls of 15 breeds are stored, and storage of samples from other breeds is planned. The RBST also collects semen for breeds that are not rare but are in a rapid state of change or contamination from other breeds. The American Minor Breeds Conservancy (AMBC), located in Pittsboro, North Carolina, was formed in 1977 by a group of indi- viduals who were interested in preserving rare breeds and stocks of livestock and poultry in North America. It works closely with simi- lar groups, such as the Association of Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums, and zoo and wildlife conservation organiza- tions. The AMBC has accomplished much work in identifying, rescu- ing, and restoring rare breeds and stocks, including Milking Devon and Dutch Belted cattle, Jacob and Navajo-Churro sheep, Dominique chickens, and Pilgrim geese. It has been developing recommended procedures for reproducing and maintaining rare poultry stocks. The AMBC has about 2,200 members, 65 percent of whom keep livestock. Membership fees and special appeals support about half of the AMBC's work; the other half is financed by funds from bene- factors and foundations (Crawford, l990b). ORGANIZATIONAL ELEMENTS OF A NATIONAL PROGRAM Programs to manage livestock genetic resources should recognize the research goals already described, of which the sustaining of germplasm
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102 / Livestock for ongoing improvement in commercial livestock populations is cru- cial. Plans to conserve genetic resources appropriate to this goal should be an integral part of livestock improvement programs. Simi- larly, the genetic characterization and evaluation for potential use should be, if possible, a prominent element of conservation programs. The dual goals of livestock improvement and conservation of genetic diversity must be addressed as dual components of an integrated genetic resource management program that aggressively pursues ge- netic improvement while protecting the genetic resources needed for improvement. A national policy for conserving and using animal genetic re- sources is essential to building a program. A program must identify the risks to these resources and have priorities for guiding decisions about managing and allocating them. It should coordinate public and private efforts to preserve, evaluate, and use animal germplasm, and it should operate with related regional and global efforts. A complete national program includes the following: · Inventories and characterizations of animal populations, with special emphasis on indigenous types. · Information recorded in an appropriate data base that can be accessed by potential users. ~ ~ - lations. · Preservation or unique or enclangerea populations. · Evaluation and international use of indigenous and exotic popu · Collaboration with other national and international programs. · As appropriate, research in managing and using animal ge- netic resources. · Strong links with genetic improvement programs to ensure they address conservation. Documentation and Inventory Characterization of all genetic resources, including their numbers and environments, and the development of comprehensive data bases are needed for all domestic animal species. Available data should include assessing the resource's risk of loss to provide a foundation for national and global decisions about conservation. However, char- acterization may require more time than is available for many popu- lations now at risk. Therefore, the first priority must be preserving breeds or populations at risk to prevent loss of resources that may possess unique genes or gene combinations. Knowledge of the kinds, numbers, status, structure, and rate of
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National Programs / 103 change of animal populations is essential to a national program. In- formation should be maintained in a data-base system that can be up- dated and supplemented. Advisory committees composed of scien- tists and other users can assist in determining conservation priorities. Three kinds of information are important for setting management priorities. First, assessment must be made of vulnerability, including population size, structure, and status (increasing, decreasing, stable), degree of endangerment, and whether the population is at risk of being diluted or replaced by other populations. Second, phenotypic and genetic uniqueness should be determined. Finally, livestock popu- lations should be characterized and evaluated to aid in selection for various economic, research, or breeding applications. Small or declining populations are particularly important because they are most vulnerable to genetic loss. If accurate population counts are not known, estimation of the numbers of breeding individuals is an important first step in establishing the data base. Populations must then be inventoried periodically to assess their current status. Animal Genetic Resources Data Base Establishment of a national data base may require only part-time professional and technical support. Thus, several countries may pool efforts and professional expertise to support a regional data base, thereby making more efficient use of limited resources. Regional or international organizations that assist with planning and managing data bases require clear operating definitions of their roles and ser- vices relative to those of national programs. In addition, regional or global data banks need to be assured of consistent funding, either from cooperating nations or through international support. Conservation of Unique and Endangerec! Populations The maintenance of working herds, flocks, or populations is the predominant method for conserving animal genetic diversity in the commercial sector. However, for rare stocks, especially those that are not economically competitive, conservation through commercial sec- tor activities may not be effective. Rare stocks may be better pre- served through specially designed programs for live conservation and continued improvement, which also focus on indigenous types with recognized potential value. These programs may need financial sup- port from public and private sources. Cryogenic storage of gametes or embryos is another way of pre- serving rare stocks. Samples for cryopreservation should be docu
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104 / Livestock mented as fully as possible. Guidelines have been developed by the FAO for characterizing health status, environmental conditions at the time of collection, population statistics for production traits, animal and tissue sampling procedures, individual animal records, and de- tails on the treatment of samples (for example, embryo washing pro- tocols during processing for freezing). The genetic diversity within major production stocks also should be regularly monitored. Declines in genetic variation and narrowing of the genetic base as a result of intensive selection or inbreeding should be assessed. Conservation of the germplasm of primary pro- duction stocks should not be overlooked. Evaluaiton and Internai'onal Use of Indigenous and Exotic Populations Production and marketing systems around the globe vary greatly. National animal improvement programs must consider the sustain- able capacities of specific production systems and use appropriate genetic stocks. The selection of stocks used for breeding will also be influenced by the local environment, which can significantly affect expression of a particular genotype and, thus, affect productivity. Access to novel germplasm in the form of improved stocks can be a major benefit to animal breeders. However, the contributions of adapted indigenous populations also can be valuable, especially when there is an adverse production environment. The introduction of inappropriate genetic stocks can have long- term and deleterious consequences. Important adapted traits can be lost from local breeds, and indigenous stocks may be totally replaced by imported breeds. Indigenous landraces and populations can be the sole resources for environmentally adaptive traits or particular production characters. Thus when indigenous populations are threatened by imported stocks, national actions are necessary to ensure their conservation. Collaboration with Other Programs National programs should interact with other national, regional, and global efforts to conserve and manage animal genetic resources. International cooperation should include participation in regional or global data bases and standardization of criteria for the safe move- ment of animal germplasm. Information on the status and availabil- ity of specific animal germplasm could assist the exchange and use of germplasm among countries. Some developed countries will have the ability, desire, and re
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National Programs / 105 A foreman at the Corriedale ranch in New Zealand shows a prized Cor- riedale ram. This breed was developed in 1882 through private sector efforts to combine wool and meat production traits in one breed. The Corriedale is a Merino-Lincolrr crossbreed. Credit: lames P. Blair, C)1992 National Geo- graphic Society. sources to participate in multilateral or bilateral efforts to aid the maintenance of genetic diversity in developing countries. Interna- tional aid could support preserving indigenous breeds or locally adapted populations that are threatened by replacement or serious dilution and lack adequate evaluation. Support could also come through the sponsorship of training programs in areas such as quantitative genet- ics, use of breed resources, conservation and breeding to heighten awareness for knowledgeable and responsible sustainable develop- ment of animal agriculture using imported and indigenous breeds. Great strides have been made in recent years in procedures and technologies to control diseases. Methods for testing animals are very sensitive, and infected and disease-free individuals can be iden- tified readily. The quarantine of live animals can, however, be pro Or
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106 / Livestock hibitively expensive. Import and export regulations are not always based on the latest scientific evidence. An important development in terms of the international movement of germplasm is the emergence of embryo washing techniques (see Appendix B). In light of new technology, it will be essential that nations coordinate policies and required protocols to ensure the safe, reliable exchange of animal germplasm, without undue restrictions. Opportunities for Research Research is an important element of national germplasm manage- ment programs. Many aspects of research related to livestock im- provement, such as reproductive physiology, cryopreservation, and molecular biology, are being conducted in universities, international centers, and private industry. A national program should determine its need to pursue new research efforts, which should be of practical and immediate application, and in areas not addressed by other pro- grams. Research areas needing attention include: characterization and evaluation of indigenous populations; cryopreservation technol- ogy for avian semen, swine and poultry embryos, and semen and embryos of minor species and wild relatives; collection of oocytes, in vitro fertilization, embryo splitting, nuclear transfers, and cloning of embryos; development of effective field techniques for collecting se- men and embryos; molecular techniques to measure genetic differ- ences within and between breeds; development and utilization of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) libraries; techniques for DNA transfer; and methods for fertility and reproductive enhancement. GERMPLASM CONSERVATION IN DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES In developed countries the numbers of breeds, varieties, and strains of most of the agriculturally important animal species are declining. Trends toward industrialized animal production systems in many de- veloped countries have led to demands from industries and consum- ers for greater uniformity in animal performance and animal prod- ucts. Although the decline of many breeds is generally recognized, there is some disagreement on the relationship between the loss of breeds and the narrowing of the genetic base. The situation varies among species. For example, replacement of poultry stocks with those adapted to controlled, closed environments occurs faster than with cattle stocks that must still be adapted to varying local conditions and seasons.
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National Programs / 107 In many developing countries, where the environment, disease, climate, and the feed supply limit breeding efforts, the most impor- tant characteristic of livestock is still their ability to thrive in harsh circumstances. The stresses of climate, feed and water, altitude, dis- ease, and pests and parasites, combined with farmer preferences, have imposed powerful selection forces in the tropics and subtropics. Breeding programs are needed to improve productivity without decreasing ad- aptation to the environment. In many tropical areas, temperate im- proved breeds are being imported, while local ones are neglected. This policy has worked well with dairy cattle in many subtropical and dry tropical areas, leading to the wider distribution of Holstein cattle. It has generally failed, however, in the humid tropics. Furthermore, success can be maintained only if intensive production inputs, such as feed supply and medication for disease control, are maintained. In harsher environments, local breeds can often be best improved through carefully planned crossbreeding and selection techniques (Mason, 1984~. Bali cattle, for example, are smaller than European cattle and are low milk producers, but they exhibit high fertility, minimal fat deposition, efficient water utilization, and an ability to thrive in hot humid climates and on poor quality feed. Their size, agility, and ease of training also make them particularly suitable for work in small fields of irregular shape. In many parts of Latin America, Africa, and southern Asia, the goat, which can live and thrive on poor ranges, is the principal source of meat and milk for the subsistence farmer. Selection programs to improve milk yield and meat production in tropical goat breeds are needed. In developing countries, efforts in recent decades to increase ani- mal productivity nearly always involved the introduction of imported germplasm. The technique of artificial insemination and the capabil- ity to freeze semen, which can then be shipped easily and stored indefinitely, have encouraged these attempts at change. The newly developing techniques of embryo transfer offer another means for introducing germplasm, but success has been mixed, in part because of a lack of appropriate infrastructures for artificial insemination, em- bryo transfer, and communication and education among small live- stock producers. Only when conditions permit the whole transfer of modern production technology and genetic stocks has it been pos- sible to replace existing populations with introduced ones. Replace- ment has been possible more frequently with poultry or pigs than with ruminants If. Hodges, consultant, Mittersill, Austria, March 1992~. Increasingly, however, local indigenous breeds are being diluted or replaced. Much of the unique germplasm of livestock in developing countries may thus disappear.
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108 / Livestock Some developing countries have recently established programs to conserve animal genetic resources (Hodges, 1990a; Wiener, 1990~. These are generally large countries with many indigenous breeds, a well- developed administrative and scientific infrastructure, trained per- sonnel, and laboratory resources. For example, Argentina, Brazil, China, and India have national strategies involving the use of live animals and cryogenic techniques to preserve endangered breeds. Activities also exist in several smaller developing countries such as Botswana, Morocco, and Zimbabwe (Setshwaelo, 1990~. These and other national efforts have been aided by the FAO and the UNEP (Hodges, 1992a), which have developed methodologies, provided training courses and publications, and held expert meetings focusing on the needs and opportunities for improved conservation and management. However, smaller developing countries are often unable to devote resources to develop their own programs. RECOMMENDATIONS The primary aim of national animal germplasm conservation pro- grams is to ensure the maintenance and accessibility of sufficient livestock genetic diversity to support increases in animal production in a variety of systems, and to accommodate changes in selection goals, production environments, and market requirements. Conser- vation includes maintenance, preservation, and propagation of en- dangered breeds that may be unique or possess potentially useful heritable qualities. To be effective, national programs should also facilitate the characterization, evaluation, and use of animal germplasm. International programs are needed to coordinate and support national efforts and to provide support for information management and training in germplasm conservation and use (see Chapter 6~. con National programs for preserving, managing, and using livestock ge- netic resources must be established in developed and developing countries and suited to different needs. The principal work of conserving animal genetic resources must be planned at the national level. Public and private activities should be integral parts of the national plan. Given the substantial differ- ences in needs and appropriate approaches in individual countries, the organization of national conservation programs will vary widely among countries. No single best strategy or program exists, although some elements are common to all. For example, a national program must document national populations, with emphasis on indigenous breeds. Further, it should participate in maintaining a data base on -
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National Programs /109 indigenous and imported genetic resources. This task may be accom- plished most efficiently in cooperation with similar regional and global efforts. For example, governments could cooperate on a regional basis to share responsibilities, resources, facilities, and technical expertise. An essential first step for successful animal genetic resources man- agement at the national level is identification of a center, office, or individual charged with the responsibility of monitoring and, to the extent possible, fostering conservation of national genetic resources. This person or office could cooperate with international efforts and other national programs, and should become a center of knowledge about the status of national livestock resources. Mechanisms for providing bilateral and multilateral support to enable developing nations to preserve, manage, and use their livestock genetic re- sources must be developed. Multilateral and bilateral aid programs will be required in many cases to help establish national livestock improvement and conserva- tion efforts in developing countries. Technical expertise from the developed countries should also be readily available. Conservation of diversity is a global concern, and given the greater threat to un- characterized, indigenous livestock populations in developing coun- tries, the support of improvement and conservation programs in de- veloped nations is essential. Ultimately, livestock production and improvement programs of both developed and developing countries will benefit from international support and assistance efforts. Operational programs that implement strategic genetic conservation activities and prevent further loss of potentially valuable livestock genetic resources should be established. The issues surrounding the conservation and use of animal ge- netic resources have been discussed and debated in numerous fo- rums for more than 30 years. The general conclusions from these meetings are similar: diversity in global livestock populations is po- tentially threatened, valid reasons exist to conserve diversity in live- stock populations, and international coordination of strategic conser- vation activities is highly desirable. Further delineation of the need for conservation and management of animal genetic resources is not required. Information and Data Increased efforts are needed to inventory and characterize unique and endangered populations and breeds, particularly in developing countries. Effective conservation and management of genetic resources in
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110 / Livestock livestock will require basic information on animal populations: population sizes, structures, and trends, phenotypic characteristics, productivity, and environmental conditions under which they have been raised. Much descriptive and analytic information has been gathered on live- stock breeds, particularly in developed countries. However, in devel- oping countries, far less has been accomplished in terms of organized studies to inventory, characterize, and compare livestock populations, and often there is still insufficient information on which to base man- agement decisions.
Representative terms from entire chapter: