Scientists will use funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at how genetic information can improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in tropical climates. The institutions in Scotland and Africa where the researchers are based are also making additional contributions, taking the total funding pot to £20 million over the next five years.
Women represent 70% of African smallholder chicken producers. Chickens can be a real way out of difficult livelihoods for these women and the households they attend to. A new project, SciDev.Net recently reported, is aiming at leveraging this potential in novel ways.
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is working with partners to understand the breed composition of dairy and indigenous cattle in Tanzania and to find the appropriate dairy cattle genotypes that will help farmers identify and keep dairy breeds that are appropriately matched to farms.
‘Archaeologists have long known that people started to domesticate animals for food at the dawn of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent (the curve of land across the Middle East from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf) about 10,000 years ago. But details of the complex pathways through which improved livestock spread across Europe and Asia are only now emerging, as genomic technology makes it practical to compare the DNA of hundreds of animals across continents. . . . ‘A Chinese consortium led the sheep study in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi; it is published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Scientists from . . . CGIAR . . . are setting up a “preemptive breeding” program to develop livestock with resistance to potential widespread outbreaks of currently localized diseases to help reduce some of the losses that would occur. CGIAR scientists presented their preemptive breeding strategy and new evidence of threats from climate change to the science advisory body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on June 4.
Agricultural economists working in ILRI and Uganda have designed a new method of identifying and analysing constraints to smallholder farmers’ capacity to serve fast retail markets.
New Yorker cover by Tom Gauld (via Pinterest). The following fascinating recent history of the chicken in America is taken from a 2014 essay by Andrew Lawler published in Aeon (check out this online science and cultural magazine, founded in London in 2012, if you haven’t yet): Chicken of tomorrow: How a massive breeding contest turned …