Conservation and utilization of genetic resource of local breeds is one of research missions in animal sciences as part of continued agriculture. There are four major tasks in the establishment of animal germplasm conservations; collection, maintenance, evaluation,and utilization. Germplasm may be defined as the total genetic diversity of a species. Continued increases in animal production require improved varieties, and animal improvement is certainly dependent upon genetic diversity. Germplasm preservations maintain portions of this diversity to meet the needs of the animal breeders and producers, sometimes even to serve our society from a culture aspect.
The local breeds usually has a smaller body size, slower growth rate and less lean meat content but had one or more adapting characteristics to their living environment in the past, such as prolificacy of Taoyuan pig, heat tolerance of yellow cattle, disease-resistance of water buffalo, twinning of black goat, prolific laying ability of Tsaiya duck, roughage tolerance of Chinese goose, meat flavor of country chicken, and early maturity of miniature pig. They have lived on the same piece of earth with us for many years but they need to face the fate of elimination from the market-place due to less production values and interbred with other exotic varieties frequently. Taiwan Livestock Research Institute, included her animal propagation stations snd research ststions together with universities' Animal Science Department under financial support in part from the Council of Agriculture, Republic of China, have conducted the nation-wise project of animal germplasm conservation program to save these native animals since 1987.
Due to the limitation of raising facilities and finance support, cryopreservation of semen and embryo from native breeds are essential to maintain the variance of genetic resources. Thus the freezing techniques for semen of yellow cattle, black goat, pigs, country chinken, Tsaiya ducks and Chinese geese were developed and applied currently in field test to check the survivability of thawed sperm. Embryos of yellow cattle, black goat and Taoyuan pig were frozen in the liquid nitrogen condition and had been examined their mortalities after thawing and transfer into surrogate mothers. Although the transfer of forzen embryo was not success in several trails, but with direct transfer of fresh embryos into surrogates several Lanyu miniature piglets and one black goat lamb were born alive in 1991.
Animal resources of Taiwan are bounteous and are preserving for the improvement of exotic breeds in term of production performance and efficiency. Conservation and integration of germplasm for new variants should be a major mission of governmemtal research institutes in order to utilize gene pool adequately.
We would like to acknowlege the scholarly efforts of our contributors, who have made the germplasm program stimulating and rewarding by providing timely collections and beautiful pictures. Our appreciation also go to the Animal Industry Department, Council of Agriculture, and Taiwan Provincial Government's Department of Agriculture and Forestry for their supports.