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Turkey Production Improvements

Technology #92012-95014-z00173

Increase Turkey Egg Laying and Growth Rate

Four methods for the enhancement of turkey performance are presented: three methods for increasing reproductive efficiency and one method for increasing turkey growth rate and muscle mass. Two of the technologies that work to increase reproductive efficiency utilize the inhibition of the vasoactive intestinal peptide in order to reduce prolactin secretion levels and the occurrence of brooding behaviors. The third reproductive technology utilizes the effects the eyes seem to have on the gonads in order to provide poultry with the optimal combination of light wavelengths to induce the most stimulatory effects. The last technology works to increase the turkey growth rate and muscle mass of hens by using a passive immunization method to block myostatin’s inhibitory effects on skeletal muscle development.

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This license includes technologies 92012, 95014, Z00173 and Z02041.

Immunization against Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide Improves Turkey Egg Laying Production

Egg production can be increased in turkey hens by actively immunizing the hens with vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). The injected VIP produces an antibody response that ties up any naturally produced vasoactive intestinal peptide in the hens. The lack of naturally occurring VIP in turn prevents the secretion of prolactin from the pituitary and inhibits the onset of broody behavior. The immunization is given to hens prior to the laying season and then followed up with booster immunizations once per month during the laying season.

Turkeys are most often bred for their body size, but often reproductive efficiency declines with size due to the incubation behavior or broodiness that is exhibited by these birds. The problem with this broody behavior is that the turkey’s ovaries regress while they are sitting on the eggs for hatching and this can lead to the halting of egg laying altogether. Broody behavior has been found to be mediated by the hormone prolactin, which is secreted by the pituitary, so it is thought that interfering with the production of prolactin will possibly inhibit this brooding behavior without causing the turkeys to stop laying eggs.

Inhibit Brooding to Increase Egg Laying in Turkeys

Building on the previously discussed role of vasoactive intestinal peptide in the hormonal regulations and brooding behavior of hens, this technology provides an isolated and purified DNA molecule that is comprised of a DNA segment that encodes for the turkey vasoactive intestinal peptide. This VIP vaccination would, once again, induce anti-VIP antibodies that would inhibit the secretion of prolactin in order to keep turkey hens from exhibiting brooding behavior and continue to lay eggs. This vaccine would be given twice per laying season and hens can be recycled at least once following an 8-12 week break, in which they can be induced to lay again without any effects on their overall egg production.

Enhancing Turkey Reproduction

Turkeys are unique in that their eyes seem to play a role in their reproductive cycle. The eyes appear to have an inhibitory effect on the gonads and respond to different wavelengths and intensity of light. These inhibitory effects seem to be the most sensitive to the green-yellow part of the spectrum (520-575 nm) and are most stimulated by the opposite portion of the spectrum, the red (630 nm) wavelength.

This technology utilizes the effects of light wavelength on the eyes in order to enhance the reproductive efficiency of poultry. Reproductive performance is enhanced by controlling the type of light to which poultry is exposed; preferably increasing red bands while minimizing green-yellow bands for multiple, predetermined lengths of time.

Increasing Turkey Growth Rate

Myostatin (GDF-8) is a member of the growth factor family, which plays an important role in regulating development and growth. Myostatin is expressed in the skeletal muscles and seems to act as a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth. This technology works to reduce the inhibitory effects of myostatin on skeletal muscle development in order to stimulate growth rates in turkey hens. The turkeys are given an active immunization against myostatin which causes them to produce antibodies that will be transferred to poults through the eggs and induce a passive immunization response in the offspring.

The advantage of this technology is that there is no need for drug administration to animals directly or use of a transgenic animal to interfere with myostatin’s inhibitory effects on skeletal muscle growth. This technology also provides a safer method to increase turkey growth rate of muscle mass with fewer side effects and without an increase in fat content.