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Genetics has been used to help improve human health for some time now. The results of this type of research are promising and they appear to yield a staggering number of potential cures for almost every disease known to man. Scientists are increasingly looking at the potential application in animals, to improve their health, and subsequently, the health of consumers. This is all the more important if you take into consideration that overall meat consumption in the EU is projected to increase from 87.4 kg in 2004, to about 89 kg per person per year by 2012.


The European livestock breeding industries are the most advanced in the world and have achieved major genetic progress for farmed animal species in recent years. This progress has improved the economic efficiency and competitiveness of livestock industries and made substantial contributions to sustainability: pigs now produce 50% less manure for each kilogramme of meat than 40 years ago, for example. However, consumer and societal focus on issues influencing the sustainability of livestock production is increasing and this brings with it new targets for breeding, such as quality, disease resistance and other welfare related traits.

SABRE is a very ambitious project because it wants to tackle all of these diverse issues at the same time. Amongst its many goals, it plans to sequence and annotate two targeted pig chromosomes, to identify genes involved in the reproduction of cows, and to provide advice to industry on sustainable breeding strategies.


The many scientific approaches of SABRE all have one thing in common: to improve livestock sustainability through genomic selection. This requires that an array of genomic tools, appropriate populations and trait records are employed in a focused project. Many of the required tools and resources are already in place. SABRE is developing the final components for the major livestock species and is bringing the genomic approach to bear on a number of fundamental sustainability problems.

The project is yielding a new pool of knowledge for animal breeders and is helping to improve the ability of selective breeding. An impact should be felt across the EU in many different areas, ranging from food quality and safety to animal welfare, and the environmental footprint of livestock agriculture. Through its sheer size and its many partners, the project has the ambition to transform a wide range of ideas into ready-to-use output for the meat, milk and egg industries.

Europe's animal breeding organisations include a strong SME sector, which guarantees that Europe has the industrial ability to exploit the science of genomics in the best way possible, with clear benefits to the public. Hence, the dissemination of information from SABRE will be maximised through the transfer of knowledge and technologies to companies.

The research conducted under SABRE will help Europe maintain and expand its current competitive edge in farm animal breeding, thereby 'beefing up' the European economy as a whole.

List of Partners

  • Genesis Faraday Partnership (UK)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France)
  • ASG Lelystad (The Netherlands)
  • Roslin Institute (UK)
  • Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (Denmark)
  • Wageningen University (The Netherlands)
  • Argentix (UK)
  • Cordoba University (Spain)
  • Parco Tecnologico Padano (Italy)
  • The Volcani Center (Israel)
  • MTT Agrifood Research Finland (Finland)
  • Genus (UK)
  • University of Berne (Switzerland)
  • CNRS-UPR (France)
  • Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals, FBN-Dummerstorf (Germany)
  • Agricultural University of Norway (Norway)
  • University of Bonn (Germany)
  • Institut De Recerca I Tecnologia Agroalimentaries (Spain)
  • Lohmann Tierzucht GmbH (Germany)
  • The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (Denmark)
  • University of Glasgow (UK)
  • University of Munich (Germany)
  • Cogent (UK)
  • Sanger Institute (UK)
  • Institute for Pig Genetics (The Netherlands)
  • BioBest (UK)
  • Scottish Agricultural College (UK)
  • Institute for Animal Health (UK)
  • University of Medical Sciences Poznan (Poland)
  • JiangXi Agricultural University (China)
  • Zhejiang University (China)
  • China Agricultural University (China)
  • Universidade Federal De Viscosa (Brazil)
Full title:
Cutting edge genomics for sustainable animal breeding
Contract n:
Project co-ordinator:
Chris Warkup, Genesis Faraday Partnership,
EC Scientific Officer:
Jean-Charles Cavitte,
EU contribution:
€ 14M
Integrated project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top