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Researchers produce donor breed chicks from surrogate parents
The researchers demonstrated their approach in the white leghorn breed.

Gene-editing technique could aid animal productivity and welfare.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute have successfully produced donor breed chicks from surrogate cockerels and hens.

The outcome, achieved using gene-editing technology, could be an efficient way to transfer beneficial characteristics from one chicken to another, such as disease resistance or tolerance to warm climates. 

It could also benefit poultry production in low and middle-income countries, preserving key indigenous chicken breeds that are well suited to living in challenging conditions, researchers said. 

Dr Mike McGrew from The Roslin Institute, explains: “Chickens are the world’s most populous livestock species. The potential to preserve chicken breeds and introduce characteristics that will improve their wellbeing and productivity brings the opportunity to improve efficiency in the poultry industry and develop local breeds of chicken.”

In the study, researchers implanted sterile male and female chicken eggs with the reproductive cells from donor birds.
The resulting chickens were then mated together, with their chicks inheriting characteristics from their real parents - the donor birds taher than the surrogates - along with edited changes to their DNA.

The team demonstrated the approach by repairing a natural genetic change that causes distinctive white plumage in the white leghorn breed. The chicks born to the sterile chickens had a black plumage. 

They also used the technique to introduce a distinctive curly feather, believed to help Western African breeds cope with hot climates, into chicks bred from Light Sussex chickens, a British breed.

Professor Appolinaire Djikeng Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, said: “Poultry is a key livestock animal for millions of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. 

“Any gains in efficiency, productivity and health from introducing useful traits from other poultry breeds could significantly improve the lives of these farming families through increased food production and income.”

The findings are published in the journal, Nature Communications

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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk