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NEWSLETTER EDITORIAL

21 May 2011, at 12:00am

Egg-Free Surrogate Chickens Produced in Bid to Save Rare Poultry Breeds

Hens that do not produce their own chicks have been developed for use as surrogates to lay eggs from rare breeds. The advance could help to boost breeding of endangered birds, as well as improving production of commercial hens, researchers say.

Hens with a genetic modification, produced by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, were unable to produce eggs but were otherwise healthy, the team found.

Researchers say that donor cells from other breeds could be implanted into the gene-edited chickens as they are developing inside an egg. The surrogate hens would then grow up to produce eggs containing all of the different genetic information, from the donor breeds.

The surrogate chickens are the first gene-edited birds to be produced in Europe. Lead researcher Dr Mike McGrew said: "These chickens are a first step in saving and protecting rare poultry breeds from loss, in order to preserve future biodiversity of our poultry from both economic and climate stresses." - Click here to read more.

In other news this week, a new report from Development Economics ahead of the Brexit negotiations has said that for every £1 invested in farm support, farming delivers £7.40 back to the UK's economy.

Steve Lucas, Managing Director of Development Economics, said: “This is an important moment in the debate around EU negotiations. For the first time we have calculated the total contribution of agriculture to the UK economy and society. This shows how critical farming is to the country and why the Government must prioritise the sector during Brexit negotiations.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) said this showed how the sector could contribute even more to the economy, if the right trade and labour conditions are achieved in the negotiations - read more.