Genetic improvement to conserve and protect milk production of Latxa, Manech and Basco-Bearnesa sheep.

The ARDI project is coming to an end and to present the various aspects that have been worked on and the main results obtained, the final day of the project was held on 30 September. We had the pleasure of hosting around 70 people, including sheep breeders from both sides of the border, technicians from management centres and selection centres, researchers, representatives of associations related to the sector and representatives of the provincial councils, the governments of the Basque Country and Navarre and the Ministries of Agriculture of Spain and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

In this setting, so close to the reality of the dairy sheep breeds native to the Pyrenees, the importance of innovation in the agricultural sector was highlighted, which is being carried out through the implementation of new methodologies and the use of genomic information. As these breeds are so closely related, joint efforts are being considered. This would involve a move towards the joint management of the various genetic improvement programmes that are in place. This strategy will make it possible to share experiences and learn from each other, in order to increase their competitiveness and strengthen their development and operation.

Throughout the course of the project, it has been possible to strengthen the connections between breeds through the exchange of genetic material and joint meetings have been held with sheep breeders from both sides of the Pyrenees. Furthermore, major progress has been made in the implementation of genomic selection in the Latxa breed and its implantation into Manech.

In order to make the best possible use of the data collection effort, we have also analysed the best way to share as much information as possible and to be able to compare both production data and genetic values between breeds. Likewise, joint work has been carried out on the standardisation of mammary morphology and morphological traits and on new traits such as parasitism, functional longevity, and robustness.

The occasion provided the opportunity for a round table with sheep breeders to discuss the usefulness of forming a group that would enable them to work together and the benefits that this could offer. The day ended with the creation of such a group, named ARTALDEAN, which had the support of the institutions in order to make progress towards the common management of genetic improvement programmes.

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