Pedigree Stock Breeding

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pedigree Stock Breeding


a variety of measures aimed at improving the hereditary qualities of agricultural animals and increasing their breeding value and productivity. The systematic breeding of pedigree animals was preceded by a long period of selection by man, beginning with the domestication of animals and the gradual breeding into them of economically valuable qualities. The results of efforts to improve sheep, horses, and dogs were already evident several thousand years before the Common Era. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, new breeds of agricultural animals were developed in Europe, Asia, and North America. These animals were subsequently distributed all over the world. Valuable horse, cattle, and sheep breeds were popularly bred in 18th- and 19th-century Russia.

The development of the natural sciences led to elaboration of the theory of pedigree stock breeding and to improvement of the methods used. The main principles are derived from the achievements of modern biology. The most important elements of breeding are selection, matching, and proper rearing of the young animals. Selection is preceded by an evaluation of animals in terms of their conformation, development, and productivity. In commercial livestock raising, the animals are judged for suitability to maintenance conditions at large livestock-raising complexes. The development of artificial insemination and its introduction into livestock raising reduced the need for sires and made it possible to select the most valuable animals. It became essential to establish the genotype of the animals from their genealogy, their collateral relatives (chiefly half-sisters and half-brothers on the paternal side), and the quality of their offspring. Knowledge of the genealogy of agricultural animals is extremely important for evaluating young stock and selecting young sires for artificial insemination. Sires who persistently transmit desirable qualities to their offspring are considered to have the best genotypes. Valuable animals are segregated into a reproducing group (breeding nucleus), and the best of their offspring are left for breeding.

The principal method is purebred breeding (with inbreeding if necessary), which permits the preservation and strengthening of useful traits of valuable breeds and helps to increase the hereditary stability of purebred animals. Several types of crossbreeding are employed: narrow crossing enhances the purebred state of pedigree herds and greatly improves the stock, wide crossing is used to produce new breeds, and grading up hastens the improvement of a particular trait. Hybridization is also used to create new breeds.

The proper management of breeding work requires optimum conditions of feeding and maintenance and accurate pedigree registrations, which can be effectively processed by means of the latest computer technology. The following organizational measures have proved helpful to the development of breeding work: the planned distribution of breeds (breed zonation), the maintenance of studbooks, the organization of exhibitions, the showing and auctioning of animals, and the creation of councils for different breeds in the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR and the ministries of agriculture of the Union republics. In the USSR, the animals are bred at specialized pedigree stock farms, breeding and artificial insemination stations, incubator houses, and the pedigree stock farms of kolkhozes. Research institutes, experiment stations, and special subdepartments at agricultural schools work on theoretical problems and practical methods and generalize the fact obtained from breeding experiments with different species and breeds. The breeding of pedigree stock is under the general direction of the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR and the ministries of agriculture of the Union republics. Outside the USSR, this work is usually directed by associations of animal owners and by private and cooperative livestock-raising organizations.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.