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Pure line testing to 100 weeks is the key to success


Judging a flock on peak performance figures in the middle of a cycle is a natural instinct for many farmers but it often leads to an underestimate in the total number of eggs produced. Peter Cumbers explains that to get an accurate picture, it’s vital to measure performance right to the end of a flocks life, as ISA breeds continue to show outstanding performance right to the end of lay. “The persistency the Bovans Brown is demonstrating in the UK is in no small part due to the fact that extended testing began in the early 1980s, when field based recurrent testing of known pure line combinations started. Testing to 80 weeks has been ongoing since 2000 – a commitment that no other breeding company can emulate “ says Peter.

When ISA and Hendrix Poultry Breeders merged in 2005, ISA had already been evaluating pureline performance to 80 weeks of age for several years. Meanwhile Hendrix Poultry Breeders in the Netherlands had been operating a parallel program for over a decade. The combined portfolio of their Bovans, ISA, Shaver, Hisex, Babcock and Dekalb brands now benefit from the findings of this long term research and the enormous amount of data that comes from the pure line tests.

After the merger, this impressive testing duration was extended even further to 100 weeks of age. As Julien Fablet, Senior Geneticist at ISA, comments: “The extended production cycle adopted in our tests is the real key to realising our mission to breed layers capable of laying 500 first quality eggs per cycle. We have learned from past observations that the birds that produce the best eggs up to 60 weeks are not always the birds that also produce the best eggs at an older age”.