Turkey research at Rosemount Research and Outreach Center.

MN Impact: Study shows genetic effect of extreme temperatures on young turkeys

June 10, 2020

Issue

Climate change has led to a rise in mean temperature and an increase in the number of extreme temperature days. Hot and cold extremes are environmental stressors that affect livestock well-being and potentially have significant economic and food security implications.

What has been done

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota recently examined how temperature extremes are affecting the well-being and economic value of turkeys. 

Results

The researchers found that birds specifically bred to be larger and grow faster—more closely resembling commercial turkeys—can respond to extreme temperatures with gene changes that would lead to decreased muscle size.

This was the first study on the effects of thermal challenge on gene expression in turkeys during the critical first three days following hatch. It provides direction for future studies on how climate change could affect the U.S.’s $4 billion turkey industry.