Application of genomic selection in turkeys for health, welfare, efficiency and production traits
Dr. Christine Baes of the University of Guelph and Ben Wood of Hybrid Turkeys will be collaborating to adapt and apply genomic tools developed in other livestock species to improve the health, welfare and productivity of Canadian turkeys. Hybrid Turkeys’ parent company, Hendrix Genetics, has already implemented genomic selection in layer chickens and pigs and it will now adapt and apply the technology to achieve improvements in feed efficiency, bodyweight, yield, egg production and livability in commercial turkeys. This will lead to estimated economic gains for the Canadian turkey industry of $39 million over the next five years. The project will also have environmental benefits due to improved feed efficiency and reduced manure and greenhouse gas production.
Hybrid Turkeys is part of Hendrix Genetics, a multi-species breeding company with primary activities in layers, turkeys, pigs, aquaculture, and traditional poultry. Its R&D headquarters is located in Kitchener, Ontario. By applying advanced genomic selection, Canada’s role as a supplier of turkey genetics to the world will be secured. By more accurately estimating the genetic potential of selection candidates, the rate of genetic gain can be increased from 15 per cent to 60 per cent, depending on the trait chosen. These improvements will provide value across the production chain, from breeders and farmers to turkey processors and, ultimately, to consumers.