Archivos Latinoamericanos de Producción Animal, Vol 23, No 6 (2015)

Tamaño de la letra:  Pequeña  Mediana  Grande

Increased animal production through the development of high-quality tropical forages

Liana Jank, Mateus F. Santos, Casilda B. do Valle, Sanzio C. Barrios, Rosangela M. Simeão


Animal production in the tropics and subtropics is based almost entirely on pastures. Cattle reared on pastures have a competitive advantage for export, eliminating the risks presented by the mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and considerations related to animal welfare. To sustain all this huge pasture area and animal production, new cultivars of improved pastures must continuously be developed. Despite the great importance of tropical forage, breeding is a very recent activity worldwide. Only in the last 4 decades, have investments been made to develop new cultivars through selection within large germplasm collections and then through breeding. Since the 1980s Brazil invested in importing large germplasm banks and in hiring and training forage breeders, thus, today Brazil is the leader in tropical forage breeding and new high-quality forage cultivars are continuously being developed. For this to be possible, strong breeding programs and research teams must always be prioritized. Breeding is underway for the genera Brachiaria, Panicum, Pennisetum, Cynodon, Paspalum and important legumes as Arachis, Cajanus and Stylosanthes.The development of high-quality forages depends on the use of wide variability germplasm, knowledge of the biology of the species, as number and ploidy level of chromosomes and breeding methods, and the generation of a great number of hybrids to be evaluated. The main objective of any breeding program is to select and release a cultivar which will contribute with pasture diversification and an increase in animal production with resistance to the main pests and diseases. Another objective of breeding programs is to develop cultivars which will attend specific needs or have specific resistances to pests and diseases. To select for increased yield and increased quality combined is not always an easy task, but it is easier if the germplasm bank is large enough and representative of the natural variability of the species.

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