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 »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
3 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
4 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
4 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

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