On the 16th and 17th of February, the F&G (fokkerij & genetica) connection days took place. Approximately 100 Dutch speaking (animal) breeders joined this two-yearly event. This year, the theme was “afscheid van het genomics tijdperk” (saying goodbye to the genomics era).
The aim of the first day was to give an overview of new technologies that can be implemented in animal breeding. More and more (big) data is collected on farms by using sensor technologies. Therefore, other methods to analyse data are required, such as machine learning. During this meeting, presentations were given on the use of big data and the use of sensor technologies for precision phenotyping. After the presentations, three breeding companies reflected on the future of animal breeding taking the development on big data and sensor technologies into account. The presentations were followed by a plenary discussion session, where opinions on the future of animal breeding were shared. Big data can be used to collect more accurate phenotypes. The challenge in big data is to get access to data, and to combine data from multiple sources. Genomics is still a powerful tool in animal breeding. However, genomic analyses can still be improved to better understand how genes affect phenotypes. Future research should focus on the use of big data in genomic analyses.
The informal part of the event started with the introduction of 24 (!) new attendees of the F&G connection days. This was followed by a nice “getting-to-know-each-other-game” (Kahoot), a dinner and networking drinks.
The aim of the second day was to give (young) scientists the opportunity to present their work. In the morning, EGS-ABG PhD candidates of the course “emerging technologies in animal breeding and genomics” presented their future breeding program of pigs, dairy cattle, fish and laying hens. They shared their ideas on futuristic breeding programs, and discussed with the audience about gene-editing, big data, and environmental concerns. After the break, a wide scope of research was presented from horses with lymph oedema to theoretical work on modelling the total genetic variance using crossbred data and the genetic correlation between different populations. The event was concluded with a lunch. The event was very well organized, and provided a platform for Dutch animal breeders to connect, discuss and get inspired. We look back at a successful edition of F&G Connection and look forward to the next meeting in 2019!