The Nigerian livestock industry is bedevilled with myriads of problems and if the industry must grow and provide the protein need of the average Nigerian, the performance of the nation’s livestock breeds will have to improve significantly.
This was the submission of the 58th Inaugural Lecturer of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Professor Michael Ozoje while delivering the lecture titled, “Chronicles of Livestock Improvement: Excerpts From The Memoirs of a Geneticist”.
The Professor of Quantitative/Statistical Genetics and Animal Breeding who noted that Nigerian livestock have great genetic potentials, however pointed out that their present performance status shows that they are late maturing, slow growing and modest milk producers.
The Inaugural Lecturer therefore called for a paradigm shift in the use of animals with extreme variability of productive adaptability for the improvement of the country’s indigenous livestock species, stressing that certain important traits like productive longevity or lifetime performance can hardly be compromised in any production system.
According to him, genetic improvement in any production system can be achieved either through selection among purebred animals or through crossbreeding and gene complementarily with improved strains.
He however, noted that these methods are not mutually exclusive, adding that the classic definition of genetic improvement of animals consists of the application of biological, economic and mathematical principles with the aim of discovering optimum strategies to exploit the genetic variation existing within an animal species, particularly to maximize its merit.
Professor Ozoje who disclosed that in many developed countries of the world, the livestock industry is one of the biggest money spinners and the largest employer of labour stated that his research results with the West African Dwarf goats have shown that it is possible to improve on their productivity adaptability and the survival rate among goat genotypes generated can be substantially increased by utilizing the complementarities of genes effects.
Speaking on the way forward for the country, the Inaugural Lecturer recommended accurate records keeping of the number and performance records of the breeds of livestock, proper management system of livestock for identification, put in place a national livestock development policy, provision of adequate research funds, encourage the formation and promotion of breeding societies for livestock and improved work ethics.
Earlier in his Introductory Remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kolawole Salako welcomed guests to the 58th Inaugural Lecture of the University, stating that the Lecture was the fifth that he was presiding over as the Vice-Chancellor of the University.
Dignitaries from all walks of life were present at the event.