5 Applications of biology in livestock

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Jonah Lester
5 Applications of biology in livestock

The applications of biology in livestock allow in-depth knowledge about the different existing livestock species, in order to take advantage of the production of meat and other products derived from it.

Livestock consists of raising animals, specifically for human consumption. In addition, it is an activity seen with the aim of producing meat and derived products for economic use (meat, milk, eggs, wool, horns, etc.).

For those who practice livestock, it is necessary to have extensive knowledge about the life cycles of animals, the possible diseases that may affect them and everything concerning the reproduction and genetics of these living beings..

Human demand for animal protein is said to double by 2050, so farmers have focused on more efficient food production. In addition, climate change can affect reproductive systems.

Possible applications of biology in livestock

-Genetic modifications: transgenic animals

Many animals have been genetically modified in order to improve their organic conditions and favor the practice of livestock. This modification of the animal's genes is known as "transgenic animals".

Transgenic animals are obtained by injecting other genes into eggs after being fertilized. These animals are used to carry out studies on organs, and also for their general development.

It is an indispensable procedure for the investigation of possible diseases and for testing new drugs in animals. It is a process that requires great care, but it can improve livestock productivity significantly.

Genetic modifications in cattle, for example, result in a considerable increase in the production of offspring and resistance to some diseases. In general, it creates animals that are genetically stronger and that synthesize proteins better.

However, these types of biological procedures can be harmful to human health; the use of chemicals could cause side effects in people.

-Artificial insemination in cattle

Artificial insemination consists of the deposit of semen in the female in an artificial way. It is a procedure that seeks an almost immediate gestation in the belly of the animal. With this technique, the male's participation in copulation is limited.

In livestock, it is common to carry out this procedure due to the advantages it offers in production: the use of semen from an outstanding or good breed animal offers better opportunities for the genetic improvement of future offspring.

In addition, the reproductive potential can be greatly increased. A bull is capable of riding (naturally) between 40 and 50 cows in a year; Through artificial insemination and with the use of frozen semen (as part of the procedure), the semen can be deposited to 1,000 cows each year.

This application is necessary to increase the production of livestock activities. Another advantage that it brings is the reduction of risk in diseases; avoid using sick animals to extract the reproductive flux.

Embryo transfer

Embryo transfer is a technique that consists of selecting cows with high productive levels or ideal genetic conditions for the artificial insemination process. Next, the animal is subjected to hormonal treatment so that it produces greater amounts of female hormones.

After this step, the cows are subjected to artificial insemination. When the embryo is seven days old, it is transferred to the belly of another animal (after a procedure so that it recognizes the embryos as its own).

-Genomics in Animals

Genomics is a discipline that involves various techniques from biology, chemistry and genetics specialized in the study of the functioning of genomes (understood as a complete set of DNA within a cell).

This discipline allows to know in depth the functioning of DNA. Helps determine if a cow is capable of producing a good amount of milk or if the calf will have a good weight at weaning.

This technique also allows to determine how prone an animal is to suffer diseases during its life.

However, this information only yields forecasts and probabilities as results; food, environment and care can affect the animal and improve its chance of life.

In general, farmers have benefited from the application of this technique. They use it to take care of animals that are born with genetic problems.

It also allows to know in detail the origin of the animal and its parents; determine if any animal is purebred.

In the 1950s, short-nosed bulls became popular for breeding; However, after a few years of genomic research, it was discovered that the animal had tendencies to dwarfism, bringing a negative impact for the livestock industry.

-Follicular aspiration and in vitro fertilization

Follicular aspiration and in vitro fertilization are fundamental processes for livestock with regard to mass reproduction. With the application of these procedures, a cow is capable of obtaining more than 60 calves in a year, approximately.

The technique consists of the aspiration of a female cell in order to mature, fertilize and cultivate it so that it is transferred to the belly of a cow (but it must be previously subjected to hormonal treatment).

On the other hand, the bull's semen must go through a sperm selection process, in order to guarantee almost 100% the birth of males or females (depending on the needs of the livestock activity).

-Cloning

Cloning is the reproduction technique to multiply animals in order to make them genetically superior, in order to increase the production of offspring. With cloning, genetically identical offspring are born, being a natural event such as the birth of twins.

Currently, the practice of cloning has been done mainly for the benefit of livestock and some competition horses.

Cloning is a costly process, so it has focused solely on the production of profitable animals for their high milk production or for giving birth to genetically suitable animals. In addition, it is a useful technique for obtaining animals with high reproductive levels..

References

  1. Application of biotechnology to improve livestock products, Swati Gupta, C. V. Savalia, (2012). Taken from veterinaryworld.org
  2. Learn about the benefits of cloning, Portal Contexto Ganadero, (2015). Taken from contextganadero.com
  3. Biological Summary of Cattle, Portal Michigan State University College of Law, (n.d.). Taken from animallaw.info
  4. Applications of biotechnology to promote livestock development, Carlos Gómez Bravo and R. Rivera, (n.d.). Taken from actualityganadera.com
  5. Follicular aspiration and in vitro fertilization, Website Nuestro Agro, (n.d.). Taken from uestroagro.com.ar

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