Water Use Efficiency Study for the Birds

You may be familiar with efforts to create greater water efficiency and use it agriculture via management strategies and conservation methods in crops. Some that come to mind include drought tolerant plant varieties and more efficient irrigation methods. Yet water use efficiency is also being studied within the livestock sector.

We really need to be focusing on it because we have a growing population and we need to be able to see that population but at the same time, our freshwater resources are kind of diminishing. So in order to do that, we need to focus on the water sustainability aspect and focus on water efficiency related traits in livestock production.

Specifically in the case of University of Arkansas researcher Sara Orlowski, poultry

So are we going to impact deconversion? Are we going to impact body weight? What other efficiency related traits could be negatively or positively impacted by selection for water efficiency?

So Orlowski and colleagues from other institutions are developing technologies to measure water intake on an individual bird basis. Not only that, they are also studying how breeding for water efficiency traits and poultry might impact other traits.

And we hope that with our selection program that we have going on now, other primary breeder companies will be able to kind of implement this selection into their programs and maybe even extend out into other livestock species, whether it be cattle or pigs.

The research is currently in the fourth generation of two types of genetic selection, one group of poultry with traits for greater water efficiency, the other with less water efficiency traits

And now we have the data and we have the technology for primary breeder companies to kind of implement that into their selection programs in hopes of them creating more water efficient lines that will then in turn, feed the world so we’re more just a pilot study to see what happens when we select for water efficiency.

The research is supported in part by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant.