Two poultry breeding companies have teamed up with several universities and the US government to evaluate new breeding technology which could ultimately lead to avian flu-resistant poultry.
Besides the improvements in speed, accuracy and consistency, researchers believe the new method will provide a much better understanding of health and welfare traits which are increasingly important to consumers.
Running for four years, researchers will select birds with the best traits based on 60,000 genes using DNA markers.
How does DNA selection differ to traditional methods?
In current breeding programmes, selection is based on measuring the physical performance of individual birds, their offspring and family members. Data is then analysed and the best birds are then selected.
A small drop of blood from a bird will yield data for predicting the performance of the offspring. It is particularly useful for traits that are difficult to measure, such as welfare.