There’s a Problem With Chicken Fertility

The nation’s largest rooster breeder says failed hatchings are up 2 percent due to a “genetic issue.”

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
Brian Resnick
July 9, 2014, 8:48 a.m.

First a vir­us came for our pork, in­fect­ing pigs with a deadly diarrhea and in­creas­ing su­per­mar­ket prices for the meat na­tion­wide. Now, an­oth­er staple of the Amer­ic­an car­ni­vore is fa­cing a bio­lo­gic­al threat of its own.

There’s a prob­lem with chick­en fer­til­ity.

Re­u­ters re­ports that the Avia­gen Group, the world’s largest chick­en breed­er, “has dis­covered that a key breed of roost­er has a ge­net­ic is­sue that is re­du­cing its fer­til­ity.” The re­port does not in­dic­ate the nature of the ge­net­ic prob­lem. Rather, Avia­gen “has ac­know­ledged that an un­dis­closed change it made to the breed’s ge­net­ics made the birds ‘very sens­it­ive’ to be­ing overfed,” which pre­sum­ably, in turn, de­creases fer­til­ity.

Pre­vi­ously about 15 per­cent of eggs from Avia­gen hens would fail to hatch chicks; now, that fig­ure is 17 per­cent. That in­crease will trans­late to sig­ni­fic­ant im­pacts on the mar­ket, as Avia­gen sires as many as 25 per­cent of the na­tion’s chick­ens. In 2010, U.S. poultry farms pro­duced 36.9 bil­lion pounds of chick­en, which is roughly on the same scale as the mass of con­crete in China’s ter­ri­fy­ingly enorm­ous Three Gorges Dam, and more massive than the great pyr­am­id at Giza. 

This comes at an in­op­por­tune time for the U.S. poultry in­dustry. Due to re­cent hikes in the price of beef and pork, de­mand for chick­en is ex­pec­ted to rise. Chick­en com­pan­ies would typ­ic­ally re­spond to such de­mands by in­creas­ing the num­ber of chick­ens in the mar­ket, Re­u­ters re­ports. With de­creased fer­til­ity, that may not hap­pen. Pro­du­cers are scram­bling to catch up.

“At this point the broil­er in­dustry has yet to make any con­sist­ent strong in­creases in pro­duc­tion,” the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment’s June poultry pro­duc­tion re­port reads. “Al­though with good do­mest­ic prices, lower feed costs, and fore­casts for price strength in the beef and pork in­dus­tries, the broil­er in­dustry would nor­mally be mov­ing in­to an ex­pan­sion mode.” Slow growth in chick­en pro­duc­tion led the USDA to de­crease this year’s chick­en out­look by 195 mil­lion pounds, which is equal to about the av­er­age yearly chick­en con­sump­tion of 2.3 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans.

What We're Following See More »
ORDER REMAINS BLOCKED
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Travel Ban
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals "has upheld the nationwide block of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. ... It upholds the suspension of a revised version of the executive order that the Trump administration crafted to better hold up to legal scrutiny than an earlier version."

Source:
APPEALS COURT IN VIRGINIA
Court Upholds Block On Travel Ban
2 hours ago
BREAKING
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
CHINA OBJECTS
U.S. Destroyer Sails Close to Artificial Chinese Island
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."

Source:
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
5 hours ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login