One of the world’s largest chicken genetics companies apparently has a fertility problem with a popular breed of rooster. Aviagen Group says its Ross males sire about 25 percent of the nation’s meat-type birds. Last summer, Sanderson Farms, the third-largest poultry producer in the U.S. noticed a reduction in chick-output from the Ross line it buys from Aviagen. Sanderson CFO Mike Cockrell tells Reuters about 17 percent of the eggs from Aviagen Ross parents failed to hatch. A 15 percent fail-rate is normal. It was determined that the Ross roosters had become very sensitive to being overfed. They got fat and fertilization decreased.
Sanderson has switched to a different breed of rooster and preliminary results seem to be favorable.
Owned by German family-run holding company, EW Group, Aviagen’s Broiler Breeders are based in Huntsville, Alabama and include Ross, Arbor Acres and Indian River brands. Aviagen Group also has Aviagen Turkeys and CWT Farms and has operations around the globe.