An effort is under way in Russia to bring back a breed of broiler chicken that nearly vanished after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The revived Smena breed is now ready for market trials.

For officials in both the Russian government and the Russian poultry industry, this is being viewed as a way to help the country to better feed its citizens with less reliance from other broiler breeding companies, Bloomberg reported.

History of the Smena breed

Vlamimir Fisinin, head of the Russian Poultry Union, was one of the developers of the Smena breed, a larger version of Gallus gallus domesticus in 1972. The breed is credited for triggering a record surge in Russian poultry meat output that lasted through 1990.

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Food security through broiler breeder program

However, in volatile political times and with the unpredicability of U.S. president Donald Trump, Fisinin and government leaders are concerned about potential U.S. sanctions. Having a strong domestic broiler breeder program and less reliance on U.S. poultry breeding companies like Aviagen and Cobb-Vantress seemed a good idea for the country’s best interest in terms of assuring food security, Fisinin said.

Russian poultry companies spent an estimated $100 million in 2017, buying 23 million chicks from the breeding centers that Cobb-Vantress and Aviagen operate inside the country. Fisinin said those chickens in turn laid nearly all of the 4.2 billion eggs that grew into broilers on Russian farms, eventually yielding more than 4 million metric tons of meat.

Optimism around the breed

Smena’s project administrator, Dmitry Yefimov, told Bloomberg he’s cautiously optimistic that the looming trials at private farms will prove the improved breed to be a viable upstart. He already has visions of eventually exporting the new national broiler, first to other former Soviet republics and then to Vietnam and other countries in East Asia.