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. 

30th April 2021 - Project Update

Today I’m giving a 3rd update of my project. This week I submitted my first paper on factors (animal related and environmental “stressors”) affecting hatchability of layer breeders. I will say writing the first paper came with a lot of challenges, I learnt a lot during the process and it’s going to help make writing smoother for me in the future. I would like to thank my supervisors for offering me all the help I needed to complete the first paper. Being more focused is the most important learning point for me in 2021. Presently I’m working on a 2nd paper with focus on first week mortality and rearing success, in relation to stress in chickens. A secondment to Scotland remains on my to do list, delayed due to COVID-19. Also, this year I had the chance to supervise an intern (doing master’s in data science) in Hendrix Genetics who is working on chicken’s data.