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Breed risk status assessment methods are key components of country-based early warning and response systems. In this study, a multi-indicator method was developed to assess the risk status of livestock populations. Six indicators were used: (i) the current number of breeding females; (ii) the change in the number of breeding females over the last 5 years or generations (depending on the species); (iii) percentage of cross-breeding; (iv) effective population size; (v) breeders organization and technical support; and (vi) socio-economic context. To make these indicators comparable, observed values were converted into scores on a six-point scale (from 0 = no threat to 5 = maximum threat); a specific conversion method was used for each indicator. For each breed, the different scores were analysed graphically and an overall score was calculated by averaging the six separate indicator scores. This approach was applied to 178 French local breeds, belonging to ten different species: horse, donkey, goat, pig, chicken, turkey, goose and Pekin duck. A large percentage of local breeds were found to be at risk to be lost for farming, although the results were species dependent. All local equine and pig breeds, as well as almost all local poultry breeds appeared to be endangered. About 80 percent of local goat and cattle breeds, and half local sheep breeds were also found to be at risk. The usefulness of this method with regards to conservation strategies and public policy is discussed.
Improving the fowl's natural ability to clear Salmonella from their body is important in reducing disease prevalence in poultry flocks, as recommended by a recent regulation of the European Commission. It may be efficient, as expected from estimation of heritability coefficients : 0.16 in chicks and 0.18 for global contamination of hens. The animal's age has to be considered since the genetic correlation between resistances at the two ages is negative. Selecting two series of divergent lines for increased or decreased resistance, after inoculation at one week of age (chick resistance) or at the peak of lay (adult resistance) confirmed the efficiency at least of selection for the adult resistance. In parallel, genes controlling variations to Salmonella resistance were researched and several QTLs identified in crosses between experimental lines and, for some of them, confirmed in commercial lines. Thanks to the derivation of a model of Salmonella propagation within a flock, it has been shown that a combination of vaccination and genetic selection can result in very low percentage of contamination.
Duck breeding in France is directed mainly towards ‘foie gras’ (duck fatty liver) production. Nowadays the roasted duck, produced from the pure Muscovy, is economically a less important industry. About 95% of foie gras production comes from force-fed mule duck, the remaining 5% being from the Muscovy duck. After an overview of the French economical and technical context of this production, the paper will focus on the genetic aspects of the mule duck, at the level of theoretical knowledge and considering practical applications for selection. As the mule duck is an infertile hybrid between a female common duck (Anas Platyrhynchos) and a Muscovy drake (Cairina moschata), selection approaches are carried out on both parental strains. But to implement selection, genetic parameters (heritability and genetic correlations) and cross-breeding parameters (direct and maternal additive genetic effects, heterosis effect) need to be known. Our review covers both the reproductive mule parental traits, either in pure strain or in cross-breeding, with main results on the dam side for laying, fertility and hatchability and also considers the mule productive traits, such as growth, feather colour, behaviour, feed efficiency, body composition, force-feeding ability and products quality. Genetic variability of mule duck traits can be established from estimates on either the dam's side, on the sire's side, or on both sides simultaneously. This review represents a comparison of fatty duck selection, which is operated by three major private French companies, with outlines of the breeding scheme specificity.
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