New grant to improve hen health and productivity
Scientists at Roslin and two other institutions receive funding from FFAR to improve health and productivity of egg-laying hens.
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded three grants totalling $1.4 million to The Roslin Institute, Purdue University and University of California, Davis, respectively, to improve the health and productivity of egg-laying hens.
Dr Ian Dunn from The Roslin Institute and collaborators at the major poultry genetics companies Hy-Line and Lohmann Tierzucht, will lay the groundwork for breeding hens with stronger bones by developing a novel x-ray based measurement system adapted for on-farm use.
We know that bone quality in hens can be improved by genetic selection as well as improving the environment. The major obstacle has been finding a way of measuring bone quality in a living hen that is practical. This project aims to deliver a practical and reliable method to give breeders the tools to improve bone quality and reduce fractures.
The three awards are the result of a competitive call for innovative proposals for research to reduce keel bone fractures in egg-laying hens. Bone fractures, which decrease egg production, are one known challenge to raising hens in cage-free housing systems and are particularly prevalent in the keel, or breastbone.
The FFAR is pleased to support Dr. Dunn’s innovative approach to reducing bone fractures in egg-laying hens, a phenomenon that harms both productivity and hen health. Today’s farmers and ranchers face new challenges arising from a changing production environment, and cutting edge research remains critical to providing producers with science-based solutions to those challenges.
These grants support the FFAR Protein Challenge, which aims to enhance and improve the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of producing diverse proteins for a growing global population.
The grants were funded by a partnership with the Open Philanthropy Project designed to improve the welfare and productivity of egg-laying hens and commercially raised pigs. The partnership, which supports producers’ ability to adapt to a changing animal production landscape, is funded with a $1 million grant from Open Philanthropy matched by a $1 million investment from FFAR.