Zhejiang University: Exploring a new model for the silkie chicken industry


Since 2013, Zhejiang University has taken poverty reduction measures in Jingdong County, one of the six Yi minority autonomous counties in Yunnan Province with a large poor population living dispersed across mountainous areas on the country’s western border. For five years, Associate Professor YIN Zhaozheng at the Agricultural Technology Promotion Center of the university, also chief expert in the silkie industry in Jingdong County, has toiled relentlessly with his technical team to accelerate the development of the industry and promote the “Jingdong Silkie” brand.

Providing technical training and branding guidance

The team organized over 10 training sessions introducing standardized breeding, feeding, epidemic prevention and other technologies and two evaluation meetings which tested carcass performance and breed quality, benefiting over 1,600 technical and marketing workers in the industry. It also facilitated the successful registration of a national geographical indication for a silkie product and provided guidance in two silkie contests of the county, in which the first and second prizes were all won by the farms, villages or households that received assistance from the university.

Combining poverty relief with postgraduate education

Zhejiang University encouraged over 80 postgraduates to make the most of the poverty relief projects to do research on the silkie industry in Jingdong. Their field work not only enhanced their problem-analysis and problem-solving skills, but also served as a basis for their dissertations. Their research projects (e.g. on genetic evaluation and cloning of important genes, and genetic effects and expression of key genes of Jingdong silkies), in turn, provided technical input to the utilization of germplasm resources from Jingdong silkies, thus boosting the development of the industry in a broader sense.

The university launched president’s special projects such as genetic evaluation and reproduction of fine silkie chicken breeds in Jingdong Wuliang Mountain and their application in precision poverty alleviation. It also established a new industrial model of rearing breeders, concentrated brooding and then raising silkies in the woods, which improved silkie quality and increased output.

In 2017, Jingdong produced 4.31 million silkie chickens, marking an increase of 200% over 2012 with the value of production reaching 340 million RMB. The business increased income for 19,177 registered poor households and helped lift 65,401 people out of poverty.