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R&D activities

Examples of projects funded by ICSA




Chick Trade Off

During the past five decades, intensive selection of commercial chicken populations has resulted in an enormous gain of production efficiencies, both in broiler populations (for meat production) and in layer populations (for egg production). Impressive genetic progress has been achieved particularly with respect to feed efficiency and growth rate (for broilers) or length of the laying period (for layers): compared to early commercial chicken breeds 50 years ago, current commercial chickens produce far more meat or eggs with far less food consumption, thus providing an important means to reach the goal of feeding a growing human population at low cost. But this gain may also have negative downside-effects on other life-history traits of the chicken, such as animal health: as most of the physical resources are devoted to production, the usual equilibrium between production and immune response is compromised. Field observations indicate that commercial chicken populations generally exhibit weak immune capacities, leading to increased susceptibility to infectious diseases and as a consequence increased drug usage in flocks (including vaccines).
The ChickTradeOff project will investigate the detailed relationships between production traits and immune parameters, by studying experimental chicken lines having contrasting efficacies for production or immunity. Indeed, the study of trade-off implies modifying one life-history trait to estimate the consequences on the other.






Respiratory syndromes (RS) are among the most prevalent pathological conditions, resulting in poor animal welfare, economic losses, and increased antibiotics consumption. RS are mostly multifactorial, due to complex interactions between pathogens (virus and/or bacteria and/or fungi), non-infectious environmental or farm management factors, and animal (host) factors. The level of antibiotics consumption as well as their modalities of use constitutes until now a response to mitigate the unfavorable consequences (animal health, economics) of RS outbreak in intensive breeding systems. However, antibiotic use in farm animals is also associated with a negative externality - the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistances impacting animal but also human health-, that represents a major risk for the sustainability of our production systems in the future. The objective of a significant reduction of antibiotic use in farm animals takes place in this context..

The expected outcomes of the present project are: (1) a comprehensive description of pathogens involved in respiratory diseases of farm animals, which will help to define potential targets for diagnostic tools or vaccines; (2) an assessment of innovative broad diagnostic approaches; (3) the identification of pathways of immune response to respiratory pathogens; (4) the proposal of innovative and rational protocols of antibiotics use; (5) recommendations on biosecurity and herd management.