Breeding with the future in mind

Published on Feb. 9, 2022

Breeding with the future in mind

Troutlodge is the largest single supplier of eyed rainbow trout eggs into the aquaculture industry. More than 450 million eggs annually are sent around the world to clients who hatch and grow trout in a wide variety of conditions and production systems. With continued advancement in production technology, changing environmental conditions and new management strategies it’s critical that our breeding program consider the environment in which our trout will be grown.

Troutlodge aims to continually increase the performance of our products. Performance can mean different things but in broad terms if a fish grows quickly, utilizes feed efficiently, survives to harvest, and provides a good yield then we consider it a good performing fish. The genetics of the fish are certainly a factor in performance, but the environment (temperature, oxygen levels, feed formulation, density, production system, water quality, light cycle etc.) also plays a significant role in the in performance.

To continue improving performance, we must evaluate all metrics and identify which fish perform best. This is straightforward until we again consider that Troutlodge eggs are sent around the world and may be grown in vastly different conditions from one farm to the next. We also know that environmental conditions significantly influence performance.

For this reason, it’s important that we monitor performance across different environments. Troutlodge does this with the use of “sentinel” populations. These populations contain a much broader scope of genetic material than typical production eggs received by clients. With these sentinel populations we compare performance of full siblings (sisters) of many different family groups across various environments. Often, we see that families performing well in the first environment are different than the good performing families in the second. In this case the different genetic composition of the families leads to different performance results across environments.

In recent years, Troutlodge has increased the use of sentinel populations to evaluate which genetics perform well in different environments. This information is critical to understand how to select for improved performance in the face of such varied and changing commercial grow-out conditions and allows us to make improvements with each new generation.

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