New poultry facility in Ethiopia explores genetic diversity

Incubated Worlds poultry research and breeding facility explores genetic diversity of poultry to boost nutrition and incomes in Ethiopia.

May 1, 2018

2 Min Read
New poultry facility in Ethiopia explores genetic diversity
Incubated Worlds in EthiophiaThe Roslin Institute

Incubated Worlds is a new advanced poultry research and breeding facility in Ethiopia that was inaugurated April 26. The facility is an unique combination of art and science that aims to improve nutrition and incomes in East Africa with disease-resistant, climate-resilient poultry.

Ethiopia has one of Africa's largest livestock sectors, and demand for milk, meat and eggs is rising rapidly, according to an announcement from The Roslin Institute in Scotland. With new research demonstrating that just one egg per day can prevent stunting and enhance brain development in young children, the poultry facility is a great opportunity to improve nutrition in Ethiopia.

Part of the work at Incubated Worlds will involve bringing in farmer associations to study more efficient breeding practices and to learn about the latest improvements in feeding and raising chickens to help them develop and grow viable poultry businesses.

Work at the poultry facility will be closely connected to the Poultry Genomics program of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics & Health (CTLGH), a strategic alliance of The University of Edinburgh (through The Roslin Institute), Scotland's Rural College and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

CTLGH will leverage this facility to lead cutting-edge research and development programs that deliver genomic tools and associated resources for use to realize genetic gains to increase tropical poultry productivity and resilience. CTLGH scientists at The Roslin Institute, led by Dr. Mike McGrew, have established methods for cryopreservation for long-term maintenance and utilization of poultry biodiversity in Ethiopia and in Africa in general.

"We are excited by the opportunity to preserve some of the unique poultry breeds of Ethiopia using this state-of-the-art poultry research facility in Addis Ababa," McGrew said.

Adding a new dimension to the project is Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen, whose 20-year-long artistic odyssey has involved creating some 20 generations of chickens that combine traits from breeds from around the world. Vanmechelen’s artistic crossbreeding project has culminated in an exceptional bird he calls the Cosmopolitan Chicken, which livestock experts say is also a potential treasure trove of valuable genetic traits, according to the announcement.

The art installation component of Incubated Worlds includes photographs, videos and books that provide insights into the complex genetics of Vanmechelen’s many generations of poultry and an indigenous Ethiopian village chicken.

The Incubated Worlds poultry facility is funded by The Roslin Institute, the U.K.’s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and the MOUTH Foundation. It emerged from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded African Chicken Genetic Gains project, an Africa-wide initiative led by ILRI.

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