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Agriculture Webinar | Use of Genetics and Genomics to Improve the Productivity and Profitability of Smallholder Livestock Farmers

12 Oct 2022, 13:00 (CEST)

Genomic Selection, Productive and Adaptive Traits, Livestock Reference Populations, Multidisciplinary and Multinational Collaborations, Capacitybuilding Opportunities
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Welcome from the Chair

3rd Agriculture Webinar

Use of Genetics and Genomics to Improve the Productivity and Profitability of Smallholder Livestock Farmers

Genomic selection uses information from a large number of genetic markers or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in conjunction with measurements of important traits in livestock and plants (phenotypes) to estimate breeding values without requiring precise knowledge of where specific genes are located in the genome. The principles of genomic selection were initially proposed by Meuwissen, Hayes and Goddard in 2001 (Genetics, 2001, 157: 1819-1829). Since then, genomic selection has been widely adopted in animal and plant breeding programs globally because of its ability to improve selection accuracy, reduce phenotyping and generation intervals and increase genetic gains. It has transformed the livestock and plant industries, as well as delivering human health diagnostic applications, adding billions of dollars and strong social and environmental benefits, particularly across the world’s higher-income countries. Genomic selection offers great potential in low-to-middle income countries, but there are a number of significant challenges still facing the livestock sectors in those typically tropical production environments. Those challenges include the difficulty and expenses of recording the range of economically important productive and adaptive phenotypes; lack of on-farm, laboratory and computing infrastructure; and lack of human capacity. Research now being undertaken in conjunction with smallholder farmers in those tropical countries is starting to provide solutions to many of those challenges. This webinar will examine those challenges, as well as new and emerging opportunities to mitigate or reduce the problems, thereby enabling smallholder livestock keepers and their associated value chains to also benefit directly from genomic selection.

Date: 12 October 2022

Time: 1:00 pm CEST | 7:00 am EDT | 7:00 pm CST Asia

Webinar ID: 865 5114 7095

Webinar Secretariat:


Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law, University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Professor Heather Burrow is a quantitative geneticist and business professional by training, with ~40 years of experience in beef cattle breeding, particularly for harsh tropical production environments. As the CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Beef Genetic Technologies (Beef CRC) from 2005 to 2012, she was immensely privileged to work directly with the CRC’s Chief Scientist, Professor Mike Goddard, and a former Beef CRC PhD student, Professor Ben Hayes, to initiate and foster critical research collaborations with the Dairy Futures CRC in Australia and international partners including the US Meat Animal Research Center (US-MARC) and universities across the USA and Canada. Those collaborations were critical to the evaluation and subsequent proof of the effectiveness of genomic selection in beef and dairy cattle. Since the successful completion of the Beef CRC in 2012, Professor Burrow has led several research-for-development projects funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in southern Africa and Indonesia. She has also collaborated with multi-organisational, multi-national research programs aimed at developing livestock breeding programs in low-middle income countries and also contributed to several international advisory committees including the CGIAR’s livestock Independent Steering Committee and the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health.

University of Melbourne, and Agriculture Victoria, Australia

Prof. Michael Goddard is a quantitative geneticist who has spent his career teaching and conducting research on the genetic improvement of livestock. He graduated in Veterinary Science with a PhD from the University of Melbourne before taking positions at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia; Agriculture Victoria in Melbourne; the University of New England in Armidale; and the University of Melbourne. His research covered many aspects of genetic improvement in dairy and beef cattle and sheep. He was one of the authors of the first paper to describe genomic selection, which is now widely practiced in livestock and crops. His contribution has been recognized by fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society of London and the Carty Award from the USA Academy of Science. He continues to conduct research on the use of genomic data in livestock and human genetics.

Invited Speakers

Centre for Animal Science, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland, Australia

Professor Hayes is the co-inventor of genomic selection. He has extensive research experience in genetic improvement of livestock, crop, pasture and aquaculture species, with a focus on integration of genomic information into breeding programs, including leading many large-scale projects which have successfully implemented genomic technologies in livestock and cropping industries. He is author of more than 250 journal papers, including in Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Genetics and Science, contributing to statistical methodology for genomic, microbiome and metagenomic profile predictions; quantitative genetics, including knowledge of genetic mechanisms underlying complex traits; and the development of bioinformatics pipelines for sequence analysis. He established the 1000 bull genomes project, a consortium of over 30 institutes across the globe, which assembled whole genome sequences of 1,682 cattle of 55 breeds. The consortium published a widely cited paper in Nature Genetics (Daetwyler et al. 2014) that has already led to more than 50 companion papers. He was a Thomson Reuters highly cited researcher in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Embrapa South Livestock, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Bagé, Brazil

Dr. Cardoso graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the Federal University of Pelotas (1995), has a master's degree in Animal Science from the Federal University of Pelotas (1999), a master's degree in Applied Statistics from Michigan State University (2002), a Ph.D. in Animal Science from Michigan State University (2003) and a postdoctoral in Bioinformatics with emphasis on Statistical Genomics at Michigan State University (2006). Currently, he is a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and Head of Embrapa South Livestock Center (Bage/RS) and is permanent faculty of the Graduate Program in Animal Science at Federal University of Pelotas and Applied Computer Science at Unipampa. He is a research fellow of the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development. He has experience in Animal Science with an emphasis in Animal Breeding and Genetics, acting on the following topics: breeding objectives and selection criteria, methodology for genetic evaluation of beef cattle, crossbreeding systems, use of genomic information in animal breeding and genotype–environment interaction.

International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Dr. Ally Okeyo Mwai is a Principal Scientist in ILRI’s Global Livestock Genetics-Live Gene Research Program. He is a quantitative geneticist with over 30 years of experience in practical design and implementation of livestock improvement programs in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Okeyo has, in the past, led ILRI’s Breeding strategies research, specifically focused on development and implementation projects, covering a wide range of research areas including characterization and genetic diversity of indigenous tropical livestock, their improved utilization, as well as development and application of assisted reproductive technologies in dairy cattle. Prior to joining ILRI, he was head of the Animal Breeding and Genetics Section at the Department of Animal Production, University of Nairobi and Coordinator of Small Ruminant Research Program at the then Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research organization. Okeyo is currently leading the development of ILRI-led dairy cattle genetic gain development and research programs in eastern Africa, known as the African Dairy Genetic Gains (ADGG) project. Okeyo has published extensively and has held several scientific, editorial, and national and international advisory board positions.

Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, The Roslin Institute & Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine; The University of Edinburgh, UK

Professor Djikeng is Chair of Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development and Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH). CTLGH is a strategic livestock genetics research and development alliance, established in 2014 by the University of Edinburgh (through the Roslin Institute), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), with operating nodes in the UK (Edinburgh) and in Africa (Nairobi and Addis Ababa). CTLGH’s mission is to develop tools, technologies, and innovations to enhance the resilience, productivity, efficiency, and environmental sustainability of tropical livestock production systems, particularly for smallholder farmers in LMICs. CTLGH receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), The Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA). Professor Djikeng’s research, capacity building, and agricultural development interests are centred on genetic improvement for sustainable and profitable livestock development in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Land O’Lakes International Development, Chipping Norton, UK

David Harvey (better known as Dai) is the Land O’Lakes’ Regional Program Director for Southern Africa. Dai joined Land O'Lakes in November 2004 as the Field Coordinator in Zambia, moving into the role of Regional Agricultural Adviser for Africa. He was later promoted to Chief of Party and then Country Director in Zimbabwe, where he oversaw a portfolio of dairy and livestock development programs. As Regional Program Director, Dai provides oversight and mentorship to ensure field-based, donor-funded contracts and agreements meet or exceed targets, while being implemented on time and within budget. He has more than 20 years of experience within Africa focused on private sector development and improving the competitiveness of farmers and agribusinesses. Born and brought up in Zambia, where he continues to be involved in agriculture through his family farm in the north of the country, Dai provides a unique perspective to development work. He has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business Management from Imperial College, London, and a Master's of Science from Reading University, UK, in Tropical Agricultural Development, minoring in Agricultural Economics.

Webinar Content

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Time in CEST

Prof. Dr. Heather Burrow

Chair Introduction

1:00 - 1:10 pm

Prof. Dr. Ben Hayes

Potential Value of Using Genomic Selection in Smallholder Livestock Populations in Low–Middle-Income Countries

1:10 - 1:40 pm

Dr. Fernando Cardoso

Combining Highly Valuable Phenotypes From Different Breeds to Improve Genomic Predictions: The Tick Resistance Case

1:40 - 2:00 pm

Dr. Okeyo Mwai

Lessons and Opportunities From the African Dairy Genetic Gains Project

2:00 - 2:20 pm

Prof. Dr. Appolinaire Djikeng and Dr. David Harvey

Panel Discussion: Options to Enable Smallholder Farmers to Benefit From Genomic Selection

2:20 - 3:00 pm

Prof. Dr. Mike Goddard

Closing of Webinar

Key Take-Home Messages From the Webinar and Final Words

3:10 - 3:20 pm

Relevant SI

Application of Genetics and Genomics in Livestock Production
Guest Editors: Prof. Dr. Heather Burrow and Prof. Dr. Michael Goddard
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2022

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