Animal breeding plays a crucial role in the production of high-quality animal protein for a growing world population. First breeders mainly focused on improvement of productivity traits, in the last 10 years the emphasis has changed to sustainability, health and welfare traits. The results of animal breeding are cumulative animal breeding requires high investments and long-term commitment to meet changing consumer demands, to increase efficiency in the food chain, to reduce the ecological foot print, to limit the use of antibiotics and to contribute to food safety and better health and welfare of livestock.

Objectives and innovation challenges

Animal breeding has always been and will increasingly become more knowledge intensive. The ‘genomic revolution’ rapidly opens new opportunities for innovation and scientific research. This enables breeding companies to expand  their world leading role and competitive position through focus on improving food security and new traits needed for sustainable, future animal production chains.

Four Netherlands-based animal breeding companies (TOPIGS, CRV, Hendrix Genetics and Cobb Europe) are prominent global players in animal breeding. These companies, in collaboration with the Animal Breeding and Genomics Group of Wageningen University & Research, work together in Breed4Food. Partners in Breed4Food have the ambition to jointly develop a world-leading institute for research and innovation in livestock genetics, Breed4Food in the Netherlands. Thereby expanding the position of the companies in the world market and strengthening the scientific position of Wageningen UR., to remain world leader in genetics and genomics research.

Breed4Food enables the 4 breeding companies to run a breeding programme that clearly outperforms the competition. Joint development of pre-competitive knowledge is crucial to achieve the goals of Breed4Food.

Partners in Breed4Food execute a research and innovation program for 2012-2016. The research domain of Breed4Food is characterized by three interacting subprogrammes:

  1. Exploiting DNA information,
  2. Enabling new breeding goal traits
  3. Added value in the food chain.

The main deliverables of the joint Breed4Food programme are i. new excellent and distinct knowledge, ii. methods and software to optimally combine phenotypic and iii. genomic data. All deliverables will enable genetic improvement in new and complex traits. Combining genomic information with routine collection of phenotypic data of all important traits, and using sophisticated statistical and bio-informatics tools, will make the difference and can contribute to sustainable development and increased added value in the food chain.