Sponsored Contribution from Hendrix Genetics


The delicate balance between genes, environment, and performance

In science, the nature versus nurture debate is the subject of numerous studies with respect to human behavior. Are actions and personality determined by genes or by the environment in which an individual is raised? In many cases, results show that a mixture of the two factors is involved.

Similarly in animal breeding, the same genetics nurtured in two different environments can impact performance. The genetic code (or genotype) is linked to different traits, and the interaction between the genotype and the environment can result in differences in performance. This is known as the “genotype by environment” effect (GxE). The effect can be noted at the phenotype level and can have a major impact on measurement of genetic progress. Our balanced breeding programs account for GxE in a number of ways to ensure that our products perform to their optimum in a commercial environment.


Since Hendrix Genetics egg-production strains are distributed worldwide, it is necessary to evaluate laying hens over a wide range of environmental and housing situations. The R&D Department raises pedigree birds in commercial environments in approximately 25 locations around the world. Hens of the commercial-generation that are evaluated are the daughters of pre-selected cockerels. By collecting performance data on a large number of flocks and individually caged hens Hendrix Genetics has the capability to gather a vast quantity of data. Furthermore, the offspring of the cockerels are evaluated in the commercial line at two or more different locations to incorporate the effects of differences in housing, management, feed and climate as selection criteria.