Animal Genetics

We study genome-wide marker data, lineage information and phenotypic information in order to optimise selection processes in livestock breeds. We take genetic diversity into account in doing so.


  • Genome-wide association studies and selection signatures
  • Genomic diversity, inbreeding (ROH) and kinship
  • Monitoring of animal genetic resources
  • Estimation of variance components and breeding values


In cooperation with the Swiss Sheep Breeding Association, we are conducting and improving breeding value estimation. For meat production, we estimate the breeding values for the trait "daily gain to the 45th day". In doing so, we differentiate between the genetic growth potential of the lamb and the genetic potential of the dam for milk production. The development of animals with high daily gains that are also good milk producers shall then be promoted on the basis of these two traits. For fertility, we estimate the breeding values for the traits "age at first lambing", "lambing interval”, “litter size 1" and "litter size 2".

sheep Enlarge image

Genomic data can be used to deduce genetic kinship and genetic inbreeding. The latter is estimated using runs of homozygosity (ROH), i.e., long stretches of homozygous genome. Using different species and Swiss livestock breeds as examples, in past years we studied the estimation of ROH and analysed the procedure for setting parameters. Next, we will compare the regional distribution of ROH among the breeds.

We focus on the monitoring and conservation of local breeds, analyse their specific genetic traits and identify options for conservation projects. For instance, in one study we were able to show that beak deformities occur with greater frequency in a local Swiss chicken breed than in others. In cooperation with various universities, we have developed a monitoring instrument for local Swiss breeds.



Are you interested in working with us or would you like to know more about our research in animal genetics? Please contact us.

Team Leader