What if a chicken farmer can’t find a mate?
Or if her chickens are laying eggs?
Well, that’s what the government wants to know from you, as it looks to tackle a serious problem for the chicken industry in Australia.
The Federal Government is looking to the agricultural technology sector to help tackle the problem of declining chicken numbers in the country, which are thought to be linked to the use of artificial insemination and cloning technology.
Under the Federal Government’s National Chicken Technology Strategy (NCST), the Government aims to boost the number of chicken farms by 50 per cent over the next decade and increase the number to between 10,000 and 15,000 in the next five years.
The Government also plans to invest up to $100 million in chicken breeding programs, with $10 million to be spent on new chicken breeds.
But chicken farming is also facing problems that could have a negative impact on its sustainability.
Agricultural technology is often used in agricultural farming to help with egg production, raising the chance of a successful chicken flock, but some farmers have found it difficult to find suitable mates.
Dr Michael Schulze from the University of Sydney, who is leading a project looking into the potential benefits of poultry breeding, said it is difficult to breed chickens to produce the high quality eggs that are so popular in the industry.
“In the United States, egg production is dominated by male chickens and the eggs produced by these males are typically higher quality than those produced by female chickens,” Dr Schulzes said.
“That means that eggs produced from these males can be consumed by higher-quality females and that means the eggs of high quality females are more likely to be consumed in the egg supply chain.”
The Government’s plan also looks to increase the supply of eggs, which has been criticised as the key to raising chicken numbers.
However, chicken farmer Peter Stuckey of the Blue Water Farm in Western Australia, who has bred chickens for 40 years, said he was still struggling to find mates.
“I’ve been breeding for 35 years and I have only been able to get one male out of my flock in 40 years,” he said.
Dr Schulz said there were still many issues that needed to be worked out.
“It’s important to note that in Australia, the rate of chicken deaths is increasing and this is not just down to genetics,” he explained.
“We need to do something about the breeding system and the supply chains to get the number up.”
The chicken industry employs more than 70,000 people in Australia and is a major contributor to the Australian economy.
The Chicken Industry Association of Australia is calling on the Government to invest in more chicken breeding and encourage more breeders to choose breeding as a career.
“The poultry industry has grown significantly in recent years and we’ve seen record levels of egg production in Australia,” Dr Stuckeys said.
“This means we’re seeing a significant increase in chicken numbers and that will have a huge impact on our future and the industry.”
Topics:farming-aquaculture,technology,horticulture,animal-science,chickens,federal—state-issues,coronavirus-and-diseases-and_disorders,further-up-nation,australiaContact: Rebecca Mollison, [email protected] stories from Western Australia