Cobb Research Initiative could advance poultry genetics

Funding program seeks innovative ideas that address crucial challenges in the industry.

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The Cobb Research Initiative (CRI) has opened a second round of applications of funding for research projects that address crucial challenges and advance genetic progress in the poultry industry.

“We’ve chosen to keep the call very similar to the first round and it’s very broad in terms of topics,” said William Herring, Ph.D., vice president, research and development, Cobb-Vantress.

Proposals should focus on opportunities to improve poultry genetics throughout the supply chain, including hatchability, mortality, egg production, fertility and an increased rate of genetic progress in broilers for weight, yield, breast meat, feed efficiency and beneficial feeding behaviors and any “area that the industry struggles with,” he added.

Researchers should feel free to submit proposals for multi-year projects. In addition, the grant amount is flexible, but funding requests should be reasonable, Herring advised.

The 2024 pre-proposal period opened January 30. Submissions will be accepted until March 4

First grant recipients announced

Cobb announced the first 9 grant recipients in July 2023. The accepted projects harness a range of new technologies and innovations.

“Five of the 9 used artificial intelligence (AI), neural networking, machine learning and digital phenotyping in some way as part of the project and I would say I was pleasantly surprised at that,” Herring explained.

However, “I don’t want people to think AI has to be a part of their proposal, because it doesn’t,” he said.

Proving Grounds

Cobb also recently announced a new product development research center, Proving Grounds.

“This is a platform where we take our genetic lines and propose genetic products that we think may be the next winners introduced into the marketplace and test them on a very large scale,” Herring said.

Along with evaluating new genetic products, recommended guidelines including nutrition, lighting and more will be developed on broiler breeders in conditions mimicking commercial operations.

The Proving Grounds’ end-to-end pipeline product development supports 100 times more parent stock per year available for trials and 400 times more broilers per week for commercial-scale trials, according to the press release.

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