$10 mln DNA technology selection project in poultry breeding

01-10-2008 | |
$10 mln DNA technology selection project in poultry breeding

The USDA has partnered with Hendrix Genetics and Cobb-Vantress on a US$10 mln DNA technology selection project in poultry breeding.

The recently formed alliance between multi-species breeding company Hendrix Genetics (the Netherlands) and the broiler breeding company Cobb-Vantress (Arkansas, USA), is to become the first in the world to implement genomic selection in poultry breeding.
The USDA has agreed to provide $US2.5 mln towards a $US10 mln large-scale field evaluation of DNA selection technology in chicken breeding.
The use of this new technology is a breakthrough in animal breeding. The selection of pedigree stock through DNA analysis from the whole genome will provide accurate and rapid results, enabling significant genetic improvement. Such progress  – hard to realise using traditional breeding methods – will now be feasible for disease resistance, animal health and welfare traits.
Field evaluation begins today (1 October) and will run for a period of 4 years. In addition to the breeding companies Cobb-Vantress and Hendrix Genetics, a consortium of leading universities and institutes in a number of countries will be involved in this milestone project. Genomic selection will also be implemented in the other breeding divisions of Hendrix Genetics.
This new field of research is based on previous in-house and collaborative DNA research performed at Hendrix Genetics and Cobb-Vantress. The animals with the best traits will be selected based on 60,000 genetic markers (called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs) and with the assistance of DNA chip technology.
Hendrix Genetics will perform the field evaluation of the technology for layers, and Cobb-Vantress for broilers. Both companies have the birds, facilities and the expertise to carry out this large-scale project. The universities and institutes will support the project with their knowledge of quantitative genetics and DNA technology to assist efficient implementation of the project.
In the current breeding programmes pedigree stock selection is based on the performance of individual birds, of their offspring and of extended family members relating to factors such as feed and management. The data are evaluated and the best birds chosen for the breeding programme. With the new DNA technology, a small drop of blood from a bird will yield data for predicting performance of the offspring. Besides the improvements in speed, accuracy, product quality and consistency, the new method will provide a much better understanding of health and welfare traits important to the future of the global poultry industry.
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