helix r&D ISA layersv dna

Published on Dec. 22, 2016

Genomics in Layers

Keeping up to date with the most innovative genetic technologies is our biggest area of focus. 

We believe that the future of improved genetic progress is the use of genomic selection.

Genome wide marker assisted selection (or ‘genomic’) gives a real advantage compared to ‘traditional’ selection where selection is based solely on phenotypes (measurable and observable traits). By reading DNA information of each bird with at least a medium density SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism = DNA marker) array, geneticists are able to predict breeding values sooner with high accuracy. Genetic improvement whatever the trait, is the following:

  • Selection intensity which is directly linked to the number of progeny per dam and sire.
  • Genetic variability, the bigger your line, the bigger your genetic variability will be.
  • Accuracy, the more data collected, the better accuracy will be.
  • Generation interval.

The first two points are directly linked to the capacity of breeding companies to have a big population size. The last two points are the ones that are impacted by genomics. In ‘traditional’ selection to increase accuracy, more data needs to be collected. For example, to be accurate on egg shell colour between 80 and 100 weeks, data would be collected on breeding candidate and siblings and then selection will be done. This has an impact on generation interval since it will dramatically increase. With genomic selection, breeding value estimation can be done as soon as genotypes are analyzed with a high degree of accuracy. This is true especially for late traits compared to ‘traditional’ selection.

Assuming that accuracy stays the same and generation interval is decreased by two, does this means that genetic improvement for egg number and quality will double? It is possible, but not likely. There is also the potential that genomics will be used to increase the speed of egg number improvements as well as make progress on difficult to predict traits such as health, pecking and mortality for example.

By harnessing the strength of genomic selection, we can push even further into genetic progress. Ultimately the results of genomic selection will mean even better flock performance for our customers.