Why Melinda and Bill Gates are betting big on chickens (hint: ‘the ATM of the poor’)
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Why Melinda and Bill Gates are betting big on chickens (hint: ‘the ATM of the poor’)

Our foundation is betting on chickens. Alongside partners throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are working to create sustainable market systems for poultry. It’s especially important for these systems to make sure farmers can buy birds that have been properly vaccinated and are well suited to the local growing conditions. Our goal: to eventually help 30 percent of the rural families in sub-Saharan Africa raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, up from just 5 percent now. . . . Continue reading

Out of Africa genetics: How the giraffe got its long neck (and other biological curiosities and exuberances)
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Out of Africa genetics: How the giraffe got its long neck (and other biological curiosities and exuberances)

Morris Agaba’s newest passion is the molecular genetics of the giraffe, specifically the genes responsible for the animal’s impossibly long neck and legs—and the highly adaptive cardiovascular system this animal has evolved to manage its formidable biological obstacles. Continue reading

Injection of new genetics funding to boost the health and productivity of Africa’s farm animals
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Injection of new genetics funding to boost the health and productivity of Africa’s farm animals

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. Continue reading

Animal genetics project to review and improve Tanzania’s dairy herd for higher milk yields
Agriculture / Animal Breeding / Animal Production / CRP37 / Dairying / East Africa / Genetics / Indigenous Breeds / Livestock / Project / Research / Tanzania

Animal genetics project to review and improve Tanzania’s dairy herd for higher milk yields

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. Continue reading

Sheep genomics: ‘Sheep—A very long yarn’—Financial Times
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Sheep genomics: ‘Sheep—A very long yarn’—Financial Times

‘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. Continue reading

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How a ‘Chicken of Tomorrow’ breeding contest turned America’s backyard birds into a giant global industry

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 … Continue reading