Système d’Information sur la Diversité des Animaux Domestiques (DAD-IS)

United States Germplasm Bank: Conserving the Future of Livestock


As the world population grows, the need increases to efficiently produce nutritious, high quality food. Food security, the access to a sufficient amount of food, is a growing concern for many people around the world. There are relatively few international transboundary breeds that produce at a very high rate, but when placed in other environments, these breeds often do not survive as well as the local breeds adapted to that climate and diseases (Simmons & Kappes 2010). Loss of livestock is a threat to communities in the developing world because livestock represent income and food (Simmons & Kappes 2010). Therefore, it is important to conserve the breeds that are adapted to climates and conditions in these parts of the world. This highlights the importance of conserving livestock biodiversity, or variation of breeds. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) to conserve the genetics of livestock breeds throughout the country.

The germplasm bank is a place to conserve livestock germplasm (embryos, tissues and sperm samples) from a multitude of different livestock animals. This program started in 1999 and is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. The program promotes food security by maintaining germplasm from different livestock breeds from the United States. Thus, if a breed were to decrease in population, germplasm of the breed would be available so repopulation could take place. This program is imperative because if there are breeding decisions made that could have detrimental effects on necessary traits, such as reproduction and survival, there would be access to the original genetic resource.

The NAGP is also a very useful tool to improve the genetics of different types of breeds. It has an extensive source of records that help identify genetic diversity in the livestock, promoting the use of the breed because of its’ unique traits, such as meat quality or milk production. The NAGP continues to grow as a resource for breeders in the United States and around the world. It can serve model for other countries to conserve livestock genetic resources that provide many food and non-food benefits and frequently hosts genebank managers from other countries for training.

-Jennifer Levey


  • Blackburn, H.d. "Genebank Development for the Conservation of Livestock Genetic Resources in the United States of America." Livestock Science 120.3 (2009): 196-203.
  • Simmons, Kay, and Steven M. Kappes. "Using Genetic Tools to Combat Hunger." Agricultural Research 1 May 2010: 1-24.
  • National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP)