April 11, 2016


Hendrix presents genetic improvement in animal welfare




The role of genetic improvement in animal welfare was the presentation focus of Hendrix Genetics senior geneticist Jeroen Visscher (pictured) at the 14th annual Egg Congress in São Paulo, Brazil, on March 15-17. 


More than 500 professionals representing multiple areas of egg production attended the event to learn about the latest trends in the layer industry.


"There is an increasing focus on animal welfare worldwide," Visscher said. "Animal breeding companies are at the forefront. Working from the very base of genetics to increase social behavior and increased lifespan."


The growing demand for cage-free, free range and organic-produced eggs means geneticists are charged with the challenge. The goal is not just about developing a good producing bird but one with high livability and robustness to stand the challenges of all disease pathogens.


"With the transition from egg production in conventional cages to cage-free and free-range, even "old" bird diseases are reappearing," Visscher said. He added that genetic companies are also taking into account the antibiotic-free movement. "Breeding companies have changed their breeding goals and the setup of their breeding programmes successfully in order to continue to breed for the best performing birds under these changing environments."


The breeding goal for 2020 of Hendrix Genetics is to develop a robust bird that produces 500 eggs up to 100 weeks.


With more genetic tools available, such as genomic testing, geneticists are able to look at individual DNA-Markers or even genes of each bird and make a more accurate selection.


"With the help of genetic tools, in the near future, animals will be more healthy, live longer, experience better well-being and produce more animal protein for human consumption than they have ever done before, using less environmental resources," Visscher concluded.

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