05 Sep 2022

University of Bern establishes a novel breeding project with global layer companies

In a recent interview with aviNews International, Dr. Michael Toscano from the University of Bern told us about the HenTrack project…

University of Bern establishes a novel breeding project with global layer companies

In a recent interview with aviNews International, Dr. Michael Toscano (University of Bern), Mr. Teun van de Braak (Hendrix Genetics), and Dr. Sijne van der Beek (Lohmann Breeders) told us about the HenTrack project.

What is the project you are working on?

Dr. Michael Toscano, the group leader for the Center of Proper Housing of Poultry and Rabbits at the University of Bern, explains that the HenTrack project will work to identify important health, welfare, and productivity traits to improve the performance of hybrids within cage-free systems.

“Currently, most of the selection and evaluations for laying hens is done on small groups of animals or even individuals in cages. While that has worked well for cage systems, it does not allow for optimizing genetics in cage-free housing, conditions that are becoming more relevant with the transition to cage-free systems taking place across Europe and North America. With HenTrack, we can now use cage-free housing to select for hens that do well in outside of cages, said Dr. Toscano”.

Cobbcares INT digestFast

The HenTrack project is supported with a 2.7 million USD grant from Open Philanthropy, a foundation in San Francisco, CA, USA. The project is in partnership with two leading providers of laying hen genetics: Lohmann Breeders and Hendrix Genetics.

Dr. Toscano indicated that the effort will use a combination of traditional health assessments including:  feather quality, keel bone injuries, foot and leg health, as well as specific causes of mortality, and other indicators.

Additionally, more novel assessments will be implemented using a special system developed by Dr. Toscano’s group that tracks birds’ movements throughout the commercial barn.

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It is actually a cage-free, commercial barn with a Vencomatic Bolegg Terrace aviary, but




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