Celebrations are underway for a genetic strain of a broiler chicken that was preserved 5 decades ago.
Researchers at the University of Alberta preserved a genetic strain of a broiler chicken 50 years ago to ensure it lived on amid the evolution of its “monster cousins”.
Doug Korver, professor of poultry nutrition at the University of Alberta: “At the time, it was thought by Agriculture Canada that genetic progress was happening pretty quickly and that a random-bred standard should be maintained to preserve those genetics.”
Birds raised from the strain saved in 1957 are five times smaller than today’s commercially grown chickens, which have gone through extensive gene selection to boost their size and meat yield.
However, some researchers believe in the importance of saving genes from the 1957 chickens for food security, in case of illness that could threaten the existence of lines developed over the past 50 years.
Martin Zuidhof, a poultry research scientist: “If we ever have to fall back on some traits that have been lost in the commercial genetic selection process, then we have that resource available to us to rely on again.”