Modelling Agricultural Systems: Applications to Livestock Breeding
Traditionally the evaluation of animal genetic traits has focused primarily on production traits and the construction of selection indices. Selection indices, however, fail to consider the effect of management practices and the environment on productivity. Non-production traits are either under-valued or not valued at all. Given the changing demands placed on agriculture and the increased understanding of the effects of agriculture on the environment, this approach can be considered myopic. While techniques are available to link economic and biophysical/environmental models, little has been applied in the context of genetic trait evaluation. This paper therefore explores the potential for integration and the development of methods that capture not only breeding objectives, but also non-production traits. Such an approach should provide greater understanding of the implications of breeding choices and reflect not only the interests of farmers, but of society as a whole.
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