​​​​​ AGTeam.pngAnimal Genetics Team​
GenomicAnalysis.pngGenomic analysisZuluSheep.jpgZulu sheepPigs.pngLarge white pigs​

DNA profiles small.png DNA profiles

LidCat.png LidCat System

Banked samples-small.jpgBanked sampl​es

DNA analysis-small.jpgDNA analysis


​South Africa's livestock provides important and valuable resource for farmers and food sec​​​urity. Increasing human population require sustainable food production and livestock genetic diversity underpins conservation priorities. Emerging diseases, climate change, and changes in the nutritional needs of the global community are unforeseeable. Thus, ​ indigenous genetic resources defined by adaptive and neutral diversity must be maintained in order to conserve animals that will address future challenges and also provide desirable food sources. Improving animal productivity, however, require a better understanding of the structure and function of their genomes and how they interact with non-genetic components of production systems (e.g., nutrition, environment), so that management practices can be optimized to improv​e their performance. Advanced DNA technologies availed tools and data to accelerate genetic improvement in livestock production.

Research aims to:

Develop knowledge on the animal genetic resources of South Africa and apply traditional and genomics tools for improved climate-smart production in the li​vestock industry while preserving animal biodiversity

Research Focus Areas:

  • Characterization, conservation and utilization of indigenous animal genetic resources.

  • Development of new/novel & efficiency traits.

  • Development/enhancement of genetic prediction models.

  • Genomic technologies and integration to enhance quantity and quality of animal food products in commercial and small holder sectors.

  • Improve physiology, reproduction efficiency and adaptation.

  • Climate smart livestock production and mitigate the effect of climate change.

Genetics/Genomics Research:​

  • Detection and analysis of SNPs for parentage testing, including imputation of microsatellites from SNP haplotypes for parentage analysis.

  • Genome-wide association analysis for tick resistance.

  • Landscape genomics and genome-wide association analysis for disease resistance in sheep.

  • Identifying genes and gene variants for adaptation, disease/parasites resistances and reproduction.

  • Identifying genetic defects/abnormalities for proper control in the breeds (e.g. Wet Carcass Syndrome).

  • Recombination 'hot spots' for increased production.

  • Investigating maternal and paternal lineages of SA indigenous livestock.

  • Investigating genomic variants e.g. Copy Number Variations (CNVs) in the genomes of SA indigenous livestock and their association with traits of economic importance.

  • Determine signatures of selection and imply on genetic adaptation in SA indigenous livestock.

  • Developing genomic tools for proper management and conservation of indigenous livestock  kept by smallholder farmers.

  • Genetics of genetic disorders.


DNA profiling (Parentage verification & Forensics)

The Animal Genetics laboratory has been associated with the DNA typing of livestock species for:​

  • Parentage verification for registration purposes

  • Animal Forensic testing

  • Population genetics studies

  • DNA technology is used as an important forensic tool to resolve stock theft. Ensuring accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system

  • DNA-based methods provide the necessary evidence to:

    • Establish individual identification

    • Parentage verification

    • Ownership

    • Traceability

LidCat™ (Livestock Identification Catalogue)

  • The main​ objective of the LidCat system is to create an identification system for animals. 

  • It serves as a repository for hair samples

  • Is a reliable and affordable storage system

    Contact: Hannelize Swart, Email: hswart@arc.aga or Dr Pranisha Soma,
    Email: pran​isha@arc.agric.za


Understanding farm animal genetic resources is required in order to meet the current production needs, to allow sustained genetic improvement and to facilitate rapid adaptations to changing environments and breeding objectives. Conserving and preserving genetic resources of existing biodiversity is critical for the current and future research.A Biobank is a repository for short-and-long-​term storage of livestock biological samples. Samples are stored at room temperature and convectional freezing.  The ARC continually collects, processes and banks tissue, skin, hair, blood samples from livestock species, with relevant animal information captured on the database. DNA samples from resea​rch and diagnostic services (parentage verification and forensics) ​are also banked.

Contact: Avhashoni Zwane, Email: zw​anea@arc.agric.za

ARC Genetics laboratory

  • Is an institutional member of the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG).

  • Makes use of 16 ISAG recom​mended microsatellite markers for routine parentage verification, mainly cattle and horses.

  • DNA profiling services is available for other livestock species such as goats, sheep and pigs.


>​>>Back to Animal Recording and Improvem​ent​