Investing in the genetics of Scotland's trout sector

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
31 August 2022, at 1:00pm

Xelect has teamed up with Kames – which has been farming trout in Argyll for 50 years – in a bid to improve their genetics.

man holding a fish

Kames farms steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus), the sea-run cousin of the rainbow trout © Kames

According to Xelect, the agreement marks the start of the first selective breeding programme for sea-grown rainbow trout (which are often referred to as steelhead) in the UK and is designed to provide Kames with a major boost to the quality of their production – faster growing fish, with high survival rates, that thrive in seawater.

The project started with an initial genetic evaluation of Kames’ broodstock to ensure that the selective breeding programme would be based on a highly diverse population, with strong potential for future gains.

“In the next stage, Xelect will combine genetic analysis of the fish (genotypes) with real world performance data (phenotypes). By using the latest breeding programme management techniques and our highly sophisticated software, OptiMate, Xelect can then identify the optimal crosses to provide Kames with major trait improvements every generation,” said Xelect programme manager, Lidia de los Rios Perez in a press release.

“We’re really delighted to be working with Kames. They are an institution in Scottish aquaculture, and whilst our customers are spread all over the world, we’ve always been committed to developing aquaculture in Scotland too,” said Xelect’s CEO, Ian Johnston.

“This is an exciting stage of development for Kames as we launch into the next fifty years with fully integrated production. Partnering with Xelect is an obvious choice as it not only preserves our Scottish provenance but offers access to a great team of specialists dedicated to enhancing our own unique strain of steelhead trout, ” said Kames’ managing director, Neil Manchester.