If you think advances in canine genetics are a big deal, be amazed at how genetics can provide a sustainable food supply and what it could do for canine health.
HENDRIX GENETICS APPLIED TO DOGS
Barbara Andrews, TheDogPlace.org Publisher
Hendrix Genetics has been awarded a multi-year grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve poultry production in Africa. What does this mean to dog breeders and ultimately, dog owners?
Ironically, it sounds like something the NetPlaces Network has strongly promoted, i.e, “a tailored breeding program that will provide access to improved dual-purpose breeds that perform well under different African conditions.” Hendrix Genetics will invest significant resources to set up a breeding program tailored for poultry breeders. That genetic program will be tailored to climate and conditions for Africa and insure a secure supply of improved poultry parent stock to African farmers.
What is the AKC, your breed club or kennel club doing to secure and promote the importance of canine genetics, not just health, but the DNA and breeding programs that maintain individual breeds, not just a species?
The project, entitled Sustainable Access to Poultry Parental Stock to Africa (SAPPSA), will work with African smallholder farmers to develop. “Dual purpose breeds” are key for chicken farmers “to create a consistent revenue source with production of both eggs and chicken meat that provides nutritious protein to the growing African population.” Did Hendricks-Genetics use that dirty word “revenue” and are they implying that anyone would use genetics in the same breath??
“We are excited to use our extensive expertise in poultry breeding to benefit smallholder farmers in Africa,” said Louis Perrault, General Manager of Sasso. “With the foundation’s support, we are committed to further build on a sustainable infrastructure to supply healthy parent stock across Africa.”
Too bad he wasn’t speaking for the dog registries. Okay, I hear you thinking “It’s not the same thing…” But there’s more, Hendrix Genetics Chief Innovation and Technology Officer is proud that Hendrix Genetics is able to help Africa meet the growing demand for food. But he got my attention when he said Hendrix Genetics and Sasso have “specialized in colored chicken breeding, which has already successfully developed multiple chickens tailored to African ecosystems.”
That sounds like applying genetics to color just as we’ve learned to do in many dog breeds. Dog breeders, with the help of breeder-veterinarians and canine genetics experts did the same things with color. We realized that certain dilute colors were linked to weak immune systems and health problems in certain breeds. OFA and other canine health groups acknowledged what was almost always privately funded canine health research.
Those canine genetic registries and researchers are the dog world’s version of Hendrix Genetics. Thankfully we don’t eat dogs (in America and the U.K.) but genetics have made it possible to breed genetically programmed Guide Dogs, Military Dogs, Police Dogs, Search and Rescue dogs, livestock control dogs, and some of the best hunting and sporting breeds in the world.
Dog breeders have done all of that with no financial backing from the dog registries. When you look at what Hendrix Genetics’ “solid sustainability program and investments” has accomplished, it makes you wonder how dog breeders have done so well with so little backing from the organization that make $millions per year from dogs.
It’s a good thing chickens can’t walk on a leash and give kisses. Just think what Hendrix could do with that!