Kames partners with Xelect for broodstock programme

Juvenile trout at the Kames hatchery, Kilmelford

Independent producer Kames Fish Farming has announced a new strategic partnership with breeding and genetics specialist Xelect. Kames will be working with Xelect to develop an improved strain of steelhead trout.

Kames, a long-established name in Scottish aquaculture, farms trout in marine pens on the west coast. The new programme will focus on faster growth, improved survival rates and fish that are even better placed to survive in the sea.

In the wild, rainbow trout often migrate to the sea – which is when they are known as “steelhead” – but some individuals fare better in sea water than others. Genetic selection should help to ensure that Kames has a strain well suited to growing and thriving in sea lochs.

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.

Xelect Programme Manager, Lidia de los Rios Perez, said: “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”.

Kames is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and in May it was named as Company of the Year at the Aquaculture UK awards.

Xelect’s CEO, Ian Johnston, commented: “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.”

Kames’ Managing Director, Neil Manchester, commented: “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.”

Neil Manchester, Managing Director, Kames