Abstract #16

# 16
Using genomic technologies to improve broiler health and production.
Rachel J. Hawken*1, 1Cobb-Vantress, Siloam Springs, AR.

Health and welfare traits have always been a critical factor toward the genetic improvement of broiler breeding stock. Current trends toward antibiotic free broiler production have emphasized the need to engage new technologies toward the improvement of these traits. Genomic technologies such as genome selection, genome sequencing, and mutation detection all offer great opportunities to advance these traits. For example, with the aid of genomics, genetic information from birds in disease challenged environments (on pure line breeders or crossbred product birds) can be utilized for the selection of superior breeding stock at the pedigree level, in non-diseased environments. Furthermore, the genetic basis of genetic diseases can be identified and deleterious alleles eliminated from breeding programs. This presentation will illustrate various opportunities for improving health and production traits using genomics at Cobb.

Key Words: poultry, genomics

Speaker Bio
Rachel is the Director of Biotechnology at Cobb-Vantress, the world’s largest chicken broiler breeding company. She leads a team of talented scientists toward integrating genomic tools in the Cobb breeding program to improve the performance of broiler breeding stock.  Rachel completed her Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne, Department of Veterinary Sciences, Centre for Animal Biotechnology, and then her  postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota where she developed molecular tools for use in gene mapping and variation detection in the pig, sheep and wallaby.   Rachel then joined CSIRO Livestock Industries, where she was involved in dissecting the genetics of reproduction traits in beef cattle and production traits in dairy cattle.  Since joining Cobb, Rachel and her team have identified DNA variations causing unwanted phenotypes in chickens, and have integrated genome selection into the breeding program for the purpose of accelerating the selection of superior genetic stock to meet new and existing market demands for poultry.