Concept for planning conservation schemes for farm animal genetic diversity focused on German chicken breeds
Genetic diversity is the base for future breeding in all farm animal species and therefore needs to be conserved. Criteria for the choice of breeds to be included in conservation programs are essential for the design of conservation strategies. In this project, such criteria were developed based on Weitzman’s diversity concept using domestic chicken biodiversity as a model. Taking into account the specific features of farm animal biodiversity, the following extensions of the methodology were developed: (a) an approach to assess the Weitzman diversity within and between breeds, (b) development of an approximate algorithm and software to calculate Weitzman’s diversity statistics for many breeds, and (c) an approach to account for safe external (international or commercial) populations in the derivation of conservation priorities.
Based on microsatellites data of in 20 non-commercial fancy breeds and 8 commercial layer and broiler genetic distances were calculated. Diversity between breeds, marginal diversity and conservation potential were calculated for the fancy breeds, with or without accounting for the safe commercial breeds, using Weitzman’s exact recursive algorithm.
An approximation was developed to cope with bigger sample sizes. This enabled us to account for diversity between and within breeds in one step analyzing single animal data. Several tools to support decisions in planning and conducting conservation concepts were suggested. Especially for poultry lacking an existing promotion programme this is expected to be reasonable to use an area-wide approach.

The Project was funded by the federal institute for agriculture and food (BLE) on behave of the German ministry for food, agriculture and consumer protection (BMELV).