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CPRC Update: February 2009

Seizing Novel Opportunities


January 27, 2009
By CPRC

Topics

Previous issues of this update have outlined the priority areas that
categorize most research supported by the Canadian Poultry Research
Council (CPRC).

Tackling emerging issues
Previous issues of this update have outlined the priority areas that categorize most research supported by the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC).

Topics such as Food Safety, Poultry Health, Avian Gut Microbiology, Poultry Welfare and the Environment top the list. These priorities are agreed upon at regularly scheduled meetings (next one in 2010) among industry, government and academic representatives. Research in these priority areas is clearly important, but the CPRC recognizes that the Canadian poultry industry is constantly facing new challenges. To be sustainable, the industry must adapt to emerging issues.

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As has been described in earlier issues of this update, the CPRC solicits each year from the research community applications pertaining to one or more research priority areas. Prior to making a call for applications, however, CPRC directors meet to decide if topics outside the priority list warrant attention. Each director, representing his/her membership agency and commodity group (chicken, turkey, egg, hatching egg, and processing) brings emerging issues to the table. This process ensures that multiple facets of our industry are represented.

Issues of concern to one or more commodity groups are considered and, when appropriate, included in the call for proposals. For example, the CPRC recently made a call for research into novel feedstuffs in response to the emerging need for feedstuffs alternative to current grains (especially corn), which are increasing in price due to demands from the energy sector.

Several projects have received CPRC support (in principle) that will explore alternative feed ingredients that meet the nutritional needs of commercial poultry. As with all CPRC-supported research, these projects must attract matching funds before CPRC funds are released.

Seizing novel opportunities

Another mechanism by which CPRC supports research outside its priority areas is through an ad hoc program. Under special circumstances, the CPRC will consider a proposal anytime throughout the year provided it meets certain criteria: 1) it must provide a rationale for funding a project that is outside of CPRC’s priorities; 2) it must demonstrate that the proposed research is cutting edge and has the potential to address an acute issue, relate to a significant scientific opportunity and benefit the Canadian poultry sector; and 3) it must provide evidence of matching funding.

An example of research that received CPRC support under its ad hoc program pertains to cryopreservation of Canada’s remaining avian germplasm. The following is a brief description of the project, details of which can be found on the CPRC website under “Research Programs”:

In 1946 there were 300 breeders of poultry in Canada. Today, 90 per cent of the broiler chickens in North America and 90 per cent of layers worldwide come from two breeder companies each; none of these companies is Canadian owned. Many genetic lines at institutions and research facilities across the country have also been dropped. A 2005 survey of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Faculties of Agriculture in Canada found that five institutions kept 33 lines of chickens representing 23 different populations. These stocks of live birds are at continual risk from disease and budget cuts. The narrow genetic base on which current genetic lines are built leaves the poultry industry in a precarious position. If a commercial line “crashes” and/or there is a need to breed in new traits, access to stocks with sufficient genetic diversity is essential.

Freezing and storing semen, as has been used to preserve genetic stocks in other agricultural species, does not work well with poultry. Furthermore, the large size and fragility of the avian egg precludes freezing its genetic material. Although freezing and storing cells from undifferentiated embryos has met with some success, the procedure to reconstitute flocks is technically difficult.

AAFC scientist Dr. Fred Silversides and his team suggest an alternative procedure. They have demonstrated that ovarian tissue can be collected from day-old chicks and transferred to recipient chicks. They have also shown that testicular tissue can be transplanted from one chick to another resulting in live offspring once the recipient reaches sexual maturity.

The implication of these results is that these tissues can be collected from chicks of genetic interest and frozen for long-term storage. When there is a need to regenerate flocks, the tissues can then be thawed and transplanted to recipient chicks that, upon reaching sexual maturity, can be bred to produce offspring with the genetic makeup of the transplanted tissue.

This research was funded by CPRC and AAFC. Preliminary work was also supported by the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) and was highlighted in the April 2008 PIC Update in Canadian Poultry magazine.

For more details on any CPRC activities, please contact Gord Speksnijder at The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 483 Arkell Road, R.R. 2, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6H8, phone: 289-251-2990, fax: 519-837-3584, email: info@cp-rc.ca, or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca .

The membership of the CPRC consists of the Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.


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