Animal genetics, breeding and reproduction research

The focus of animal genetic research at Massey is to improve the returns from its primary industries through selection based on more accurate predictions of performance using genomic data. We also have expertise in a wide range of animals from companion and working animals to wildlife.

Research expertise

Breeding stock improvement through genomic selection

We have research expertise in the improvement of breeding stock of various production animals such as sheep, dairy cows and goats to produce animals with better meat, milk and fibre.


Genetic disease in animals

Our work defines breeding objectives for animals, calculates economic values using farm models, examines the contribution of the major histocompatibility complex to disease resistance, and identifies mutations associated with inherited diseases in animals. We work to understand genetic mechanisms underlying production, reproduction and disease resistance. We also have expertise in control and prevention of livestock disease through recombinant DNA techniques.


Improving production animal performance

This work focuses on the analysis of genetic data across animal species in areas such as nutrition, breeding and husbandry in order to boost agricultural productivity and profitability.


Maximising lifetime reproduction

Research examining pregnancy and birthing strategies across production animals, nutrition and genetic alternatives to increase lifetime reproduction per animal. We have expertise at both fundamental and applied levels.


Pregnancy and birth complications in production animals

Research around measuring fertility cycles and improving fertility to management. Diagnosis and prevention of abortion. We also have post-birth expertise in lactation physiology and mastitis control and management.


Sheep and goat dairying - genetic evaluation

We have expertise in developing prototype models for genetic evaluation using genomic selection of dairy goats (with the NZ Dairy Goat Cooperative) and dairy sheep. This evaluation identifies superior animals to be selected for higher productivity and profitability, creating genetic gain in the national populations in these emergent New Zealand industries.

A selection index for dairy sheep has been developed by Massey researchers.


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Animal Genetic Services

Massey University’s Equine Parentage and Animal Genetics Services Centre offers the most comprehensive range of DNA-based genetic testing for animals in New Zealand.

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Research centres

Departments and staff

Find out more about the departments and staff involved in animal genetics and breeding research at Massey.

Animal expertise

Massey University scientists also have expertise across some key animal types. Find out more about study options, research, facilities, services or resources to do with these animals.