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Precision selection tools to reduce the requirement for food restriction in broiler breeders - LS3106

The objective of the research is to reduce the dependence on quantitative food restriction to control reproductive performance in broiler breeders. It will address the problem of sustaining the viability of the poultry meat industry that currently must employ a high level of quantitative food restriction to breed broiler chicks. Food restriction is viewed by animal welfare organisations as compromising the welfare of the breeder hen and if banished would lead to the non-sustainability of the broiler industry. We aim to provide a tool for genetic selection to decrease the propensity for multiple ovulation and thereby to eliminate the need for severe food restriction. This would allow commercial farmers to feed more to their breeding birds to optimise welfare without compromising the production of hatching eggs.The objective of the research will be achieved by i) identifying DNA sequences or combinations of sequences to increase the precision of selection for reproductive traits in animals selected for growth traits. This is commonly known as marker-assisted selection (MAS) and relies on identifying alleles of genes or DNA haplotypes that are associated with beneficial phenotypes. ii) We will determine if the loci explaining reproductive traits particularly those associated with the control of ovarian function are closely linked genetically with those explaining growth traits. If these traits can be separated then it will be possible to improve reproductive traits with limited effects on other desirable traits. If this is not the case, the results will provide essential data to develop novel mechanism for overcoming this link and to reduce the requirement for severe quantitative food restriction in broiler breeders without a reduction in the growth potential of the progeny The research utilises technical and academic expertise developed in previous DEFRA research and builds on results from an EU project.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2008

Cost: £613,259
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Roslin Institute, Edinburgh (BBSRC)
Animal Welfare              
Livestock Farming              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study