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Title: Comparative costs of programmes to conserve chicken genetic variation based on maintaining living populations or storing cryopreserved material

item SILVERSIDES, FRED - Agriculture And Agri-Food Canada
item Purdy, Phil
item Blackburn, Harvey

Submitted to: British Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2012
Publication Date: 1/3/2013
Citation: Silversides, F., Purdy, P.H., Blackburn, H.D. 2013. Comparative costs of programmes to conserve chicken genetic variation based on maintaining living populations or storing cryopreserved material. British Poultry Science. 53:599-607.

Interpretive Summary: Corporate and academic chicken lines have contracted dramatically during the last 20 years. Until a recent break through in cryopreserving ovarian tissue, gene banking for chicken populations was considered problematic. Additionally, there has been a perception that gene banking is more costly than maintenance of live populations. With the issue of whole genome conservation resolved we address the cost issue. This was accomplished be evaluating the costs of collection, storage and reconstitution over a 20 year time horizon for cryopreserved semen and cryopreserved semen and ovary options verses the costs of maintaining live populations. Results indicate that if a population is not being used (experimentally or in production) for 3 to 5 years it is more cost effective to cryopreserve the population for reconstitution when it might be needed. At the end of 20 years the cost of cryopreserving chicken populations was 90% cheaper than maintaining live populations.

Technical Abstract: Consolidations in the poultry breeding industry and academic poultry departments have resulted in the loss of avian populations. The cost of maintaining living populations is high, but ex-situ alternatives are now available. Semen can be cryopreserved and lines can be recovered by backcrossing, or gonads can be vitrified and recovered through transplantation and the recipients can be inseminated with cryopreserved semen. The alternative costs of preservation, storage, and recovery of populations using live birds, cryopreserved semen, and cyropreserved ovaries and semen are outlined and were found to be approximately 90% less than in-situ maintenance. Maintaining live populations is justified if there is an immediate benefit of their use or an expectation of significant benefit in the short term. However, it is difficult to justify keeping live populations if the anticipated benefit is not: large, immediate, or known. Cryopreserving semen and gonads is relatively inexpensive, and yearly costs of storage are negligible. The major cost of using cryopreserved material comes just before the benefit is accrued and it only applies to those populations that are used. Backcrossing using cryopreserved semen requires approximately 3 yr, but recovering a population by transplantation of ovaries and insemination with cryopreserved semen requires only 43 wk, so that the use of the material could be included in a short term research project and the cost of recovery can be budgeted for in proposals. Anticipation of relatively modest benefits when cryopreserved genetic material is used provides sufficient economic justification to establish an avian conservation program.