Animal genetics

What is Animal genetics?

Genetics is the study of genes and their effects in living organisms. The information in an organism’s genes provides a biological blueprint for its appearance, function and survival and largely defines its similarities and differences with other organisms. The genetics of livestock are therefore a critical factor influencing animal production and health. The Animal Production and Genetics Unit leads FAO’s activities supporting countries in the management of the genetics of their livestock populations.

The State of the World

Diverse animal genetic resources provide adaptability and resilience in the face of climate change, emerging diseases, pressures on feed and water supplies and shifting market demands. [read more]

Did you know?

There are 800 breeds of cattle in the world,
each with different valuable traits

Over 600 million poor people depend on livestock-related activities for their livelihoods

99 breeds are reported to have become extinct between 2000 and 2014

Global Plan of Action: a process

Sustainable use, development and conservation of the world’s livestock genetic resources are of vital importance to agriculture, food production, rural development and the environment. The Global Plan of Action is the outcome of a country-driven process of reporting, analysis and discussion...  [read more]

Focus on


Livestock diversity helps cope with climate change
: Livestock diversity or animal genetic resources are terms used to describe the pool of 38 species of domesticated birds and mammals with more than 8 800 breeds currently used for food and agriculture... [read more]