Results of a new study strongly suggests that during evolution, the DNA of indigenous Ethiopian village chickens has changed to develop traits that can help the birds cope with the climatic challenges they face in their local environments.
Researchers found six key environmental drivers for adaptation:
one connected with temperature
three connected to rainfall, which impacts water availability
two connected to soil or land cover which would impact food availability for foraging chickens
Multiple candidate genes associated with adaptation to these six specific environmental stresses in Ethiopian village chicken populations were also identified. This research will help develop future breeding programmes to improve the productivity and climate resilience of indigenous village chicken breeds.
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