The Finnish project is one that all countries should emulate!
I visited Ika, a marvellous friend of mine, a week ago in the forests of Ostrobothnia. There, in a nice and cozy shed adjacent to their house, a group of chickens reside. These aren’t just any chickens – they’re part of a living gene bank! When the traditional Finnish races of chicken became increasingly uncommon (due to fewer people keeping them), the Finnish agrifood research institute (MTT) started a project to save them. The race Ika keeps, Ilmajoki, has recovered from 20 individuals ten years ago to about 300 today, of which they have 2 roosters, 3 hens and 3 chicks.
There are many reasons to conserve genetic diversity: economical and ethical, direct and indirect, short-term and long-term. The traditional races are of the same species as the industrial chickens, but have a higher genetic diversity and have often also kept behaviours like brooding that the common chicken…
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