Project 3

Predicting stress sensitivity of laying hens by identifying genetic, incubation and rearing factors

ESR 3: Ismalia Bouba          Supervisors: Dr. Bram Visser & Professor Bas Rodenburg         

Location: Hendrix Genetics 

Description: It is known that genetic differences exist in stress sensitivity and adaptive capacity, for instance between white and brown hybrids. White hybrids are for instance more flighty and fearful than brown hybrids. Furthermore, also environmental factors can play an important role in determining a flock’s stress sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Here, the parental environment can play a role, but also incubation conditions, the rearing environment, and finally the laying environment. A lot of data is gathered in each of these phases on technical performance, health and welfare, but this data is rarely combined to see whether it can be used to predict stress sensitivity and adaptive capacity of laying hen flocks. The aim of this project is to identify factors in the genetic and rearing background of laying hens that predict stress sensitivity. The starting point will be pattern detection in flock data that is routinely gathered by the breeding company during the different phases of life. Follow-up studies may include more focused data collection or experiments with the aim to develop flock level predictors of adaptive capacity.