It takes many years to selectively breed “the perfect fish”; perfection may even come in many forms to suit both production and the market place – high yield, low incidence of maturation, disease resistance, rapid growth or even gender. Frequently in the beginning of each breeding program you will have few broodfish from which to breed and begin to get that all important return on your investment.
Cryopreservation of milt offers you some key advantages in your genetic improvement process:
In the same way you back-up your important files, cryopreservation allows you to back-up all of your economically important genetic traits and gives the opportunity for further improvements at the time and pace you are looking for.
Cryopreservation gives you a far better utilization of milt from the top genetically merited males. Wider use of the top genes has the potential to strengthen and enhance that year class but will also add to the bottom line having created more desirable fish for your market.
Over the years we have all improved our competence in fish husbandry and biosecurity standards. We have also been helped by scientific research into vaccines, therapeutants, and feed formulation to arrive at the point where we can produce healthier fish with better survival rates. We do, however, grow our fish in an ever-changing environment that can turn both hostile or toxic very rapidly and to such an extent that no matter how good our standards have been, we can have years of hard work destroyed in front of our eyes.
Cryopreservation can help to restore what has been your significant genetic traits and get you back on track much sooner than were you to re-stock from conventional routes.
An Atlantic salmon breeding program based on cryopreserved milt has the potential to enter into a three year breeding cycle compared to four without losing genetic variation. The reason is an expansion of the genetic base by transfer of genetic material between year classes. Cryopreservation-based breeding programs speeds up the cost reduction effects of genetic improvements by 25%, thus contributing to the overall profitability of aquaculture.