Advancing animal breeding for NZ Agriculture

Presented by Dr Natalie Pickering, Focus Genetics

6.00pm Tuesday 13 September 2016

Lecture Theatre 2, EIT, 501 Gloucester St, Taradale

Natalie PickeringNatalie is an Animal Breeding Scientist (Terminal Sheep and Deer) at Focus Genetics in Napier. In her talk, she will outline current research in advancing animal breeding for NZ agriculture, including new methods e.g. genomic selection and traits e.g. methane emissions, lamb eating quality. She will describe how Focus Genetics is working with animal breeders to implement these into the sheep, beef and deer breeding programmes they manage.

Natalie comes from a farming background in the Wairarapa, and wanted a career which involved helping farmers in some way. After completing a Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours), majoring in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Otago, she worked for AgResearch, studying DNA samples to identify the genes responsible for characteristics such as resistance to internal parasite infections, presence of horns and blindness in sheep. This data can be used to aid breeding programmes.

Natalie then enrolled in a PhD in Animal Science joint between Massey University and AgResearch, where she investigated the genetics of flystrike, dagginess and associated traits in sheep. After completing her PhD, she was employed by AgResearch on an international two-year research project investigating if it is possible to breed for low methane emitting animals (the answer is yes!).

Since 2013 Natalie has been working for Focus Genetics, where she is a member of the team of scientists using genomic technology to help sheep and deer breeders (and consequently farmers) produce more efficient, consistent quality, greater value animals to enhance profitability of the red meat sector.

Natalie was a Finalist for the 2016 Ballance Agri-Nutrients Sheep Industry Emerging Talent Award.