Action 1 – Phenotypical characterisation of autochthonous breeds and species farmed in Italy

Action 1 includes different activities that are described in specific tasks.

Task 1.1 – Census of autochthonous chicken and turkey breeds

A census is planned in order to assess the presence and consistency of autochthonous chicken and turkey populations farmed today. The different regional location of the Partners allows for an extensive survey in the whole Country; all data gathered at regional level will be merged in a database of national relevance. Information is expected on: breed diffusion and their population size, farming system, bird management and productions. The data will be uniformly collected according to Standard Operative Procedures (SOP); a census questionnaire discussed and adopted by all partners will be used. The census will be implemented through direct contacts with conservation centres and farmers, and with local (ARA, FIAV) and national (AIA)  farmer associations also. All data collected by the different Partners will be sent to PA UniMOL and UniTO who are in charge of data processing and statistical analyses to work out global results.

Task 1.2 – Performance characterization in autochthonous chicken and turkey breeds

The project workplan includes the collection of data on morphological, reproductive and productive traits in nucleus populations of different breeds, all included in the Registro Anagrafico Avicoli and directly managed by the Partners. The management of nucleus populations allows the registration of accurate phenotypic data useful for the characterisation of the oviposition, breeding and growth performance. All Partners use a very similar housing system: birds are reared on floor pens following the standard management guidelines for poultry breeders. Data on environmental, productive and reproductive parameters have been planned to be routinely collected. The breeds reared in the different Universities are listed in Table 1.

Table 1 – Italian autochthonous chicken and turkey breeds considered for phenotypic characterisation by the different Universities (AP).

AP Breeds
Chickens Turkeys
UniMI Mericanel della Brianza Brianzolo, Nero d’Italia
UniFI Mugellese, Valdarnese bianca .
UniPD Ermellinata di Rovigo, Robusta Maculata, Robusta Lionata, Padovana, Polverara, Pepoi, Millefiori di Lonigo Bronzato, Ermellinato di Rovigo
UniPG Ancona, Livorno
UniMOL Still to identify
UniPI Livorno, Siciliana
UniTO Bianca di Saluzzo, Bionda Piemontese

The Partner UniMOL does not keep a nucleus population, but he has planned to study the growth performance of an autochthonous chicken breed to be defined according to the results of the project activities planned in 2018.

All Partners take part in the planning of common databases and SOPs in order to standardize the recording of phenotypic traits and then collect comparable measures. The Guidelines for Phenotipic Characterization of Animal Genetic Resources issued by FAO (2012) will be implemented. The data recorded by each Partner will be transferred to Partner UniMOL and UniTO, who are in charge to merge all data in a collective database to study the peculiar characteristics of the chicken and turkey Italian populations existing today.

Task 1.3 Characterisation of eggs

Egg weight, composition and quality will be studied in the Italian autochthonous chicken breeds listed in Table 1. The weights of the total egg and its components (shell, yolk, albumen) will be recorded during the whole egg-laying cycle within the Partner’s facilities. Moreover, a egg sample will be collected in May to analyze the chemical composition of the yolk and albumen. Egg samples will be transferred to the Partner UniPI, who is in charge of laboratory analyses.

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