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Neuroendocrine mechanisms and sustainable control of seasonality in sheep and goats

Neuroendocrine mechanisms and sustainable control of seasonality in sheep and goats
© Chasles
Control of seasonality and male effect

The control of reproduction in small ruminants, namely the prior choice of time and the mode of fertilization, provides a very strong acceleration of the rate of genetic progress, in particular by using artificial insemination (AI) which allows the detection and dissemination of the best male genes in all herds. It also allows the farmer to choose the timing of births in the year coinciding with the availability of food and / or market conditions that are most favorable. Finally, it allows easier control of parturition, and the formation of more uniform batches of animals for food or for sale.

In industrialized countries and in intensive farming systems, particularly in Europe, this control has been the subject of much research after the discovery of the essential roles of steroid hormones, in particular progesterone (P4) and gonadotropins (LH, FSH) and ECG or PMSG). Based on these observations, "hormonal" treatments were successfully developed in the 60s-70s and are used and every year on hundreds of thousands of animals.

However, these treatments are reaching their limits today because they are not without health risks for the consumer. Indeed, they are a source of health risk, do not respect animal welfare, they are a source of environmental contamination and especially their societal acceptability is increasingly reduced. Thus, the current trend is to develop more sustainable agroecological techniques, less invasive and to limit the use of synthetic hormone treatments. The recent emergence of environmental concerns has changed the point of view of French livestock professionals, who are now more concerned than before with implementing sustainable breeding techniques.

For these reasons, studies of the physiological determinants of the seasonality of reproduction and the means of controlling it using soft methods, including social interactions, are experiencing an important return on the scientific scene. The objective of this international symposium is to review these aspects in its physiological and neuroendocrine dimensions, placing them in a socio-economic and application dimension within livestock systems. Thus, this symposium will bring together national and international scientists, but also zootechnicians in the public domain but also private (Allice, Capgènes ...) to review these issues.

In addition, this symposium will be the occasion to celebrate the career of Philippe Chemineau. After working more than 40 years in the field of animal sciences and physiology Philippe will (hopefully!) become INRA emeritus research director in June. We will use this occasion to look back on his brilliant career as a scientist as well as on his administrative and political responsabilities in the field.

All the informations on the website of the meeting.