2014 - 2017

Determining the genetic relationships between feed efficiency, production traits and greenhouse gas (NH3, N2O, CO2, and CH4) emissions in turkeys

Principal Investigator: Ben Wood, Hybrid Turkeys (Hendrix Genetics)/University of Guelph
Co-investigator: Stephen Miller, University of Guelph
Status: Completed


Determining the underlying genetic relationships between feed efficiency, production traits and greenhouse gas emission in turkeys.


Livestock production contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission through enteric fermentation.  Although a significant amount of current research is available on the production of greenhouse gas mitigation, most work describes the influence of production circumstance and methods on GHG emissions.  Some research has been completed on the individual effects of GHG production in chickens but no research has been completed on the genetic variation present and none in turkeys. Turkeys undergo extensive selection decisions prior to being used in subsequent generations, one of which being classed as ‘high’ or ‘low’ for feed efficiency.  Once separated by feed efficiency status, birds can be compared for their greenhouse gas emission, with the objective to determine the underlying genetic relationships that are believed to exist between feed efficiency, production traits and GHG production in turkey. This study seeks to leverage to research using calorimeters and the measurement of real time gases.  Feed efficient turkeys will be selected with developed automated feed station software and accompanying hardware, able to measure approximately 400 birds per measurement period utilizing 32 feed intake stations.  An open-circuit indirect calorimetry system will be built to measure gaseous exchange in turkeys. Commercial partner (Hybrid Turkeys) currently supplies 65% of the world’s parent stock turkey requirements.   The results from the proposed research could be implemented into a breeding program immediately if commercially viable.  Change in GHG emissions could be quantified based on current practices of selection for feed efficiency along with results of this research.


$243,750 (AAFC/CPRC $107,750*, Poultry Industry Council $20,000, Hybrid Turkeys $116,000 ($100,000 in-kind))


*This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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