A Kames farm technician with one of the company's steelhead.

Kames partners with Xelect to breed Scotland-specific steelhead

Programme seeks to find fastest growing fish with high survival


Kames Fish Farming has formed a strategic partnership with St Andrews-based aquaculture genetics company Xelect to develop a selective breeding programme for the company’s steelhead (seagoing rainbow trout), the companies announced today.

The programme is designed to provide Kames with faster growing fish, with high survival rates, that thrive in their seawater environment.

Lidia de los Rios Perez: Xelect can provide Kames "with major trait improvements every generation".

An initial genetic evaluation of Kames’ broodstock has already been made to ensure that the selective breeding programme is 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”),” said Lidia de los Rios Perez, who is leading the programme for Xelect.

“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.”

An exciting stage

Kames has been in business for 50 years, and former Hendrix Genetics executive Neil Manchester took over as managing director in February, with founder Stuart Cannon stepping back from day-to-day management to become chairman. The company produces around 2,400 gutted weight tonnes of steelhead a year but is working to double that volume.

Manchester said: “This is an exciting stage of development for Kames as we launch into the next 50 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.”

A Scottish institution

Xelect specialises of offering genetics services to aquaculture companies that want to improve broodstock but don’t have the resources available to larger producers.

Chief executive Ian Johnston said: “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.”