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 »
WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS SECOND STINT
Howard Dean Pulls out of DNC Race
48 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair, announced he's pulling out of the running to regain the chairman's post. Dean "announced in a pre-recorded video to a conference of state Democratic chairs that he would step aside to allow for a new face to lead the party as it seeks to rebuild."

Source:
RUBENSTEIN FUNDING ELEVATOR REPAIR
Washington Monument Closed until 2019
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Once again, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has come through for the National Park Service. This time, he's pledged funding needed to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator-- but the monument will remain closed until 2019 while repairs and improvements are underway. Rubenstein's donation of between $2-3 million, announced Friday, will correct those ongoing elevator issues, which have shuttered the monument since August 17."

Source:
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
FILED BY JILL STEIN
Michigan Attorney General Sues to End Recount
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state to halt the recount of the state's voting results. The recount was elected by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Schuette says the recount shouldn't occur because Stein cited no evidence of voter fraud or tabulation error.

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

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