Sunday, December 10, 2023

Scientists create test to improve selective breeding of pathogen-resistant chickens

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As controversy grows over the overuse of antibiotics and other drugs used to treat diseases in poultry, industry experts look for other ways to rid birds of deadly illnesses. One technique that has been used before is breeding chickens that are naturally immune or resistant to pathogens.

Since the 1950s, birds have been selectively bred to have more white meat, stronger legs and more powerful immune systems than older generations. The problem is the process can be difficult to achieve accurate results when it comes to fighting poultry diseases because it can be hard to tell which birds have resistant genes.

However, recent improvements to this method may prove this more valid in the fight against poultry diseases than some medications. A test that can measure blood components in roosters was developed by Agriculture Research Service scientists in College Station, Texas. According to, the test identifies two important chemicals which are related to roosters’ immune response.

By utilizing the new test, poultry breeders can choose only the strongest roosters to help make birds with more efficient immune systems. This, combined with biosecurity techniques can drastically decrease the cost of medications and the use of antibiotics in hens. These improvements could lower the cost of producing poultry altogether and help broiler houses keep up with consumer demand.

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