Projects per year
Background: Profitability of breeding programs is a key determinant in the adoption of selective breeding, and can be evaluated using cost-benefit analysis. There are many options to design breeding programs, with or without a multiplier tier. Our objectives were to evaluate different breeding program designs for aquaculture and to optimize the number of selection candidates for these programs. Methods: The baseline was based on an existing breeding program for gilthead seabream, where improvement of the nucleus had priority over improvement of the multiplier tier, which was partly replaced once every 3 years. Alternative breeding programs considered were annual multiplier tier replacement, annual multiplier tier replacement with priority on improvement of the multiplier tier, and a program without a multiplier tier. Cost-benefit analyses were performed to compare breeding programs. The outcomes were used to describe relationships between profitability and the number of selection candidates, length of the time horizon, and production output, and to estimate the optimum numbers of selection candidates. Results: The baseline breeding program was profitable after 5 years and reached a net present value of 2.9 million euro in year 10. All alternative programs were more profitable up to year 17. The program without a multiplier tier was the most profitable one up to year 22, followed by the program with annual multiplier tier replacement and nucleus priority. The optimum number of selection candidates increased with the length of the time horizon and production output. Conclusions: The baseline breeding program was profitable after 5 years. For a short time horizon, putting priority on improvement of the multiplier tier over the nucleus is more profitable than putting priority on nucleus improvement, and vice versa for a long time horizon. Use of a multiplier tier increases the delay between costs made for selection and resulting benefits. Thus, avoiding the use of a multiplier tier will increase the profitability of the breeding program in the short term. The optimum number of selection candidates increases with the length of the time horizon and production output. Using too many selection candidates relative to the optimum leads to less reduction in profitability than using too few selection candidates.