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Poult Sci. 1997 Aug;76(8):1121-5.

Commercial approaches to genetic selection for growth and feed conversion in domestic poultry.

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Campbell Soup Company, Farmington, Arkansas 72762, USA.


Tremendous genetic progress has been observed historically for growth and feed conversion through the efforts of the primary breeding companies. However, significant between-strain variation still exists due to differences in selection emphasis and selection techniques practiced by these organizations. This paper provides an overview of methods currently employed in commercial poultry breeding with reference to factors complicating program design and future challenges facing the industry. Mass selection for body weight has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of days required to grow bird to market weight with indirect improvements in feed conversion. Direct selection for feed conversion is accomplished through part record testing of males that have been preselected for body weight, conformation, and defect traits. Data are commonly subjected to complex statistical analysis both to correct feed conversion for variation in body weight and to improve the accuracy of breeding value estimates. Feed conversion breeding values of male sibs are sometimes used for the selection of female candidates as well. Selection for growth rate and efficiency has resulted in negative complications, such as ascites, reduced reproductive performance, skeletal abnormalities, and increased carcass fatness. Some of these factors may be partially ameliorated through modified selection practices. If not addressed by the breeding industry, the disruption of physiological homeostasis might ultimately represent economic and genetic barriers to further progress in improving growth and efficiency. Modern techniques in molecular genetics, utilized in conjunction with traditional quantitative genetic approaches, will provide additional opportunities to circumvent these physiological complications associated with genetic selection for growth and feed efficiency.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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