We invest heavily in research focused on delivering balanced progress in both broiler and breeder traits.
By leveraging novel techniques and new technologies, we have achieved continuous progress in breeder and broiler chicken performance traits, such as broiler live weight and egg production, as well as welfare-related traits such as robustness, cardiovascular fitness, and skeletal strength. Our focus is on maintaining balanced progress in each of our branded product lines. Our highly trained team of geneticists, many with more than a quarter century of experience, selects the best breeding stock. To help fine-tune selection and advance genetic progress, they use new technologies and advanced selection techniques, and data analysis.
We work closely with our distributors and customers to keep a close pulse check on the market to identify changing consumer preferences. Constant improvement of our existing commercial brands, while maintaining a broad and diverse gene pool to be ready to develop new lines helps us supply our customers with the right bird for the right market, and at the right time.
Aviagen R&D Techniques & Technologies
We are committed to continuous improvement in the sustainability of broiler meat production. A key driver of sustainability is ongoing advancement in feed efficiency, measured by a bird’s Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR). In 2004, we took a giant leap forward in this endeavor when we began investing in innovative lifetime FCR. This method uses transponder technology for bird identification, along with electronically monitored feed stations to record intake in a setting that mimics commercial farms and group feeding behavior. Our goal is to assess feed efficiency over a bird’s entire production cycle, helping us select birds that will eventually strengthen sustainability and the businesses of our customers with excellent genetics, growth potential, and feed efficiency.
Continuous improvement in broiler meat yield is part of our sustainable production strategy. To do so, we leverage innovative methods such as direct yield testing on the siblings of our pedigree birds, along with performance measurement and on-farm selection data. We also use non-invasive ultrasound technology to fine-tune our selection accuracy. Through these approaches in our balanced breeding program, we ensure we are delivering the highest-possible yield.
Aviagen cares about our birds and is committed to their health and welfare, which go hand in hand with economic sustainability. By breeding for improved leg health, we reduce the risk of Tibial Dyschondroplasia (TD) and other leg-related issues. This leads to better welfare outcomes, as birds are able to move and behave more naturally, which positively impacts their physical and mental health. We also use gait scoring – a walking assessment method that improves bird welfare by identifying birds with mobility issues and taking steps to overcome them. And, stronger legs help reduce the risk of injuries. That’s why selection for leg health is integral to our breeding program. These methods have significantly enhanced the leg health and strength of our birds.
To further improve the welfare of our birds and the economic success of our customers, we are the only breeding company using multiple selection environments of the first-class pedigree facilities together with commercial-like conditions to identify the birds with not only the best genetic performance, but also with the robust characteristics necessary to manage and succeed in more challenging environments. Our dual-selection program uses state-of-the-art technology to measure physical competence and robustness, enhancing livability traits. We select using a targeted approach incorporating livability as well as key components affecting livability, such as leg strength and cardiopulmonary function.
Aviagen includes genomics information in the routine selection of its elite lines. Genomics information complements existing selection techniques, adding to the continuous improvement of Aviagen birds year-on-year. Our genomics work is concerned with identifying naturally occurring markers within the genome of elite birds and using those markers to help breed stronger and more productive birds through our selective breeding program, a completely natural process. This major achievement comes as a result of a long-term commitment to cutting-edge research and bringing together the expertise of top scientists in the field of genomics with our internal knowledge gained from more than 60 years at the forefront of breeding. Aviagen was the first company to include genomic information as a critical additional source of information in the R&D breeding program.