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Art and Science in Breeding

Art and Science in Breeding: Creating Better Chickens

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Art and Science in Breeding
    Book Description:

    Using poultry as a case study for the wider narrative of agricultural genetics,Art and Science in Breedingadds considerable knowledge to a rapidly growing field of inquiry.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9823-9
    Subjects: History, History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    This book,Art and Science in Breeding, focuses on patterns in historical poultry (fundamentally chicken) breeding and the organization of breeding in the United States and Canada between 1850 and roughly 1960. Its primary objective is to study how developing science (in this case genetics) interrelated with traditional practices followed on farms. I am interested, in other words, in the connection and non-connection of agricultural livestock breeding with academic biology. I believe that addressing the farm/science linkage by dwelling as much on farm breeding and culture as on genetics can increase our understanding of how the interface worked. This is...

  5. Chapter One Historical Background: Chickens, Those Lowly Creatures
    (pp. 11-32)

    Chicken breeding can be described as the foundation or the ‘basement’ of the North American poultry industry, an agricultural livestock industry that has exhibited mushrooming growth over the twentieth century. Previously underpinned by poor marketing and processing structures, the poultry industry began a remarkable transition which gathered ever-increasing momentum between the late 1930s and the 1960s. Within that environment chicken breeding underwent what appeared to be a revolution. Geneticists took over control and introduced what was perceived to be new, ‘scientifically’ oriented approaches to the problem of breeding. The phenomenal success of these breeders and the concurrent apparent transition from...

  6. Chapter Two From Barnyard Scavenger on North American Farms to Bird of Beauty and Use
    (pp. 33-73)

    With a rising emphasis after 1850 on establishing better chickens, breeders in North America adopted the methods of the eighteenth-century fighting cock and fancy pigeon breeders. Crosses of ‘breeds’ and ‘types,’ combined with blood-related matings, laid the groundwork for the development of the most important varieties for both show and utility stock over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as farmers tried to find a useful bird, and fanciers tried to fix style.¹ A new focus on chicken breeding changed the status of the birds. Increasingly viewed less as barnyard scavengers after 1850, chickens encouraged the rise of organizational...

  7. Chapter Three The Development of Agricultural Genetics in Relation to North American Chicken Breeding
    (pp. 74-96)

    An all-encompassing concern with improved farming developed over the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth in North America. Better crop husbandry practices involving rotation systems, land drainage schemes, and efforts to understand the nature of soil chemistry which supported the growth of plants all attracted the attention of scientists and agriculturalists in the first half of the nineteenth century.¹ Governments actively encouraged the pursuit of research in these areas and soon established state organizations to extend that work. By the second half of the nineteenth century both the United States and Canada had a central governmental body dedicated...

  8. Chapter Four Breeding for Eggs in North America: Conflict between Science and Craft
    (pp. 97-127)

    Mechanization of agriculture and standardization of production, both of which gathered momentum early in the twentieth century, were keys to the growth of all aspects of farming in the United States and Canada.¹ As the chicken industry entered the twentieth century, technology lent urgency to the campaign to standardize and improve production because mechanization alone allowed for unprecedented expansion. Technology which encouraged production on a seasonally even basis laid the foundations for large-scale commercialization of the egg trade. More efficient transportation via railways played a role in making eggs available year round, but it was the invention of cold...

  9. Chapter Five The ‘Scientizing’ of Breeding in the North American Egg Industry
    (pp. 128-153)

    One of the most important technological developments that impacted the poultry-breeding industry was the invention of workable incubators which supported hatchery operations. When it became feasible to hatch chicks artificially in large numbers and when it was understood that a baby chick lived on its internal yoke for at least 72 hours after hatching, a new industry, the hatchery industry, was born. Its connection to the breeding industry was intimate over the first half of the twentieth century. As one prominent twentieth-century breeder put it: ‘The hatchery industry developed from the breeder industry.’¹ Between the mid-1920s and about 1940 the...

  10. Chapter Six North American Chicken Breeding and the Rise of the Broiler Industry
    (pp. 154-177)

    From the beginnings of a commercial industry in the mid-nineteenth century, attempts to increase egg yields dominated poultry-breeding strategies in North America. All major, craft, or traditional breeding schemes from the late nineteenth century into the twentieth were aimed at creating superior egg-producing hens. When American geneticists addressed poultry breeding early in the twentieth century, they too were interested in egg productivity. Corporate involvement in the breeding of chickens, emanating out of the United States, also focused on increasing the number of eggs that hens laid. The story of North American chicken breeding before the mid-twentieth century, then, is primarily...

  11. Chapter Seven Epilogue: Trends in Chicken Breeding after 1950
    (pp. 178-201)

    The fundamental characteristics of the chicken-breeding industry that had been laid down by the 1950s remained in place over the last half of the twentieth century. The breeding industry demonstrated patterns which might be described as the continuation, consolidation, or logical extension of features well entrenched by the 1950s. The most significant shift that took place over that period in chicken breeding was the globalization of the undertaking. By the early twenty-first century, however, there are signs that we are at the beginning of a major revolution which would see the decline of hybrid breeding, a return to lines that...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 202-214)

    The development of modern agriculture, with its global emphasis, standardization, and mechanization through technology is a complicated story with many facets to it. The infiltration of scientific knowledge, biological knowledge in particular, is central to that story. Genetics would be one of the important arms of biology to interact with agriculture as it evolved in North America, even if it is by no means the only one. It became fundamental to the success of breeding, which surely is the critical ‘basement’ of agricultural production in any country. Understanding how genetics affected agricultural production in any country, however, is difficult because...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 215-252)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-274)
  15. Index
    (pp. 275-281)