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The role of local adaptation in sustainable production of village chickens

Bettridge, Judy M.; Psifidi, Androniki; Terfa, Zelalem G.; Desta, Takele T.; Lozano-Jaramillo, Maria; Dessie, Tadelle; Kaiser, Pete; Wigley, Paul; Hanotte, Olivier; Christley, Robert M.

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Judy M. Bettridge

Androniki Psifidi

Zelalem G. Terfa

Takele T. Desta

Maria Lozano-Jaramillo

Tadelle Dessie

Pete Kaiser

Paul Wigley

Director of Frozen Ark Project & Professor of Genetics & Conservation

Robert M. Christley


Village chickens are ubiquitous in smallholder farming systems, contributing to household, local and national economies under diverse environmental, economic and cultural settings. However, they are raised in challenging environments where productivity is low while mortality is high. There is much interest in utilizing indigenous genetic resources to produce a chicken resilient to its environment, whilst providing the basis of an economically sustainable enterprise. Globally, however, a wide variety of interventions have so far proved unable to deliver sustainable improvements. Here, we show that regional differences in trait preferences and parasite burden are associated with distinct chicken genepools, likely in response to interacting natural and human-driven (economic and social) selection pressures. Drivers of regional differences include marketing opportunities, cultural preferences, agro-ecologies and parasite populations, and are evident in system adaptations, such as management practices, population dynamics and bird genotypes. Our results provide sound multidisciplinary evidence to support that sustainable poultry development interventions for smallholder farmers, including breeding programs, should be locally tailored and designed for flexible implementation.


Bettridge, J. M., Psifidi, A., Terfa, Z. G., Desta, T. T., Lozano-Jaramillo, M., Dessie, T., …Christley, R. M. (2018). The role of local adaptation in sustainable production of village chickens. Nature Sustainability, 1(10), 574-582.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 15, 2018
Publication Date Oct 15, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 16, 2019
Journal Nature Sustainability
Electronic ISSN 2398-9629
Publisher Springer Nature
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 10
Pages 574-582
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Feb 1, 2019


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