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30 September 2013

Genetic parameters of foot-pad dermatitis and body weight in purebred broiler lines in 2 contrasting environments

The aims of this study were to investigate the genetic background of foot-pad dermatitis (FPD) in 4 different broiler lines reared in 2 contrasting environments (pedigree or sib-test) and to evaluate the performance of simultaneous genetic selection for improved FPD and BW. Data were available for 4 generations from 4 broiler lines, bred with varying intensities of selection for growth. The average BW ranged from 1.7 to 2.4 kg at 5 wk of age. In the pedigree environment, the prevalence of FPD ranged from 14 to 37%, with 3 to 9% being severely affected; in the sib-test environment, these values were correspondingly 45 to 79% and 35 to 70%. Both traits showed re-ranking of the 4 lines in terms of phenotype across the 2 environments, indicating the existence of a genotype-by-environment interaction. In both environments, females showed higher prevalences of FPD than males. In line with their higher prevalence, heritabilities of FPD in the sib-test environment ranged from 0.22 to 0.32, compared with 0.18 to 0.24 for FPD in the pedigree environment (all SE ≤0.02). Estimates of the genetic correlation between FPD in the pedigree and in the sib-test environments were high (0.78–0.82), which suggests that selection against FPD in a highly biosecure environment can improve the genetic merit for birds reared under commercial conditions. Estimates of the genetic associations between FPD and BW were small and varied in sign. Predicted responses to selection showed a yearly reduction in average score of −3.4 to −7.5% for FPD in the pedigree environment and −0.5 to −6.6% for FPD in the sib-test environment, while maintaining improvement of BW of 2.6 to 3.2% and 2.6 to 3.8% of the average BW per year, respectively. This research indicates that balanced genetic selection for both BW and FPD in contrasting environments is an effective strategy to reduce the genetic disposition to develop FPD in broilers.
Author/Organization: D. N. R. G. Kapell, W. G. Hill, A. M. Neeteson, J. McAdam, A. N. M. Koerhuis, S. Avendaño
Year: 2012
Topics: animal health, broilers, environment, genetic , poultry/chickens, welfare on the farm