In order to breed for birds that produce under field conditions with sometimes high disease pressure, different climates, higher stocking densities, varying feed and management quality, it is also necessary to test birds under a wide range of different field conditions all over the world.
Males do not lay eggs, but as a geneticist you still want to know what genes those males possess which will result in the performance of their offspring, gives that huge numbers of crossbred, pedigreed offspring are tested under field conditions.
Another advantage of this so-called recurrent testing and reciprocal recurrent testing is the fact that the ‘combining ability’ or ‘heterosis’ of individual pure line males is also measured.
All the collected data have to be handled and evaluated into breeding values for each individual for every trait under consideration.
This gives the need for a huge database and data handling computer.
Data entering therefore requires a sophisticated infrastructure.
BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) is used in the breeding programme of Hendrix Genetics. This is to evaluate all the pure line and crossbred data into individual breeding values for each trait. This statistical technique allows the breeder to correct for multiple non-genetic effects (such as hatch week, farm and row) and to take complete pedigree structures into account.
Hendrix Genetics is investing in its breeding program and research project has started on breeding for robustness. This is a cooperation between Hendrix Poultry Breeders, Wageningen University Research Centre, Nutreco Breeding Research Centre and Service XS.
The objective of the project is to develop new techniques, which can be used to increase robustness of laying hens by breeding.
Robustness is the ability of a laying hen to maintain normal functioning, even when housing, climate, nutrition or biosecurity are not optimal.
For this purpose physiological, ethological and immunological research is carried out on a range of pure lines and crossbreds.