Last month saw Hy-Line International celebrate the opening of its third research farm in the state of Iowa, USA. The farm has been named in honour of Dr Henry A Wallace, Hy-Line's visionary founder when, in 1936, the company become the first poultry breeding company to apply the principles of hybridisation to commercial layer breeding.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Jonathan Cade, president of Hy-Line International, said: "We have a substantial responsibility in the effort to feed a growing global population with an inexpensive and nutritious source of protein – the egg. The addition of the Dr Henry A Wallace Farm allows us continued innovation and genetic progress in Hy-Line layer genetics to achieve this."
"We are making significant strategic changes in the Hy-Line breeding programme to accelerate the rate of genetic progress," said Dr Danny Lubbitz, Director of Research & Development for Hy-Line International. "Egg production and eggshell quality show higher genetic variation at older ages. The pedigree birds housed on the Dr Henry A Wallace Farm will be evaluated for these traits, among others, to help ensure continued genetic progress in persistency and shell strength."
The addition of the new farm increases the population of research birds from which to identify the top performing individuals to populate the next generation, says Hy-Line. By moving from two research farms to three, the age that birds can be evaluated up to has increased from 76 to 105 weeks, whilst the generation interval has reduced from 60 to 28 weeks. As a result of the improved selection intensity, Hy-Line varieties will continue to gain increased egg numbers, persistency, shell strength, egg weight and feed efficiency, says the company.
Hy-Line layers are used in over 120 countries and continue to be the biggest selling layer breed around the world. Over half of those countries are supplied from Hy-Line UK's Millennium Hatchery in Warwickshire.