Genetic parameters for a heavy female turkey line: impact of simultaneous selection for body weight and total egg number

Andreas Kranis, Paul Hocking, W.G. Hill, John Woolliams

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1. The objective of this study was to investigate the strength of the genetic association between growth and reproduction traits in turkeys selected for body weight, conformation and egg production. 2. Two distinct populations but derived from the same heavy turkey female line and situated in different locations (UK and USA), were used to estimate genetic parameters using multivariate REML for the following traits: body weight at 14 (BW14), 19 (BW19) and 24 (BW24) weeks of age and total egg number (EGG). 3. A Box-Cox transformation was applied to egg production data to reduce the impact of non-normality. 4. The heritability estimates for each trait for the UK and USA populations, respectively, were: BW14 0.37 and 0.48; BW19 0.34 and 0.43; BW24 0.28 and 0.43; EGG 0.22 and 0.34. 5. The genetic correlation between the body weight at all ages and the total egg production was strongly negative, reaching a value of -0.75 for the UK and -0.55 for the USA population. 6. The comparison of our results with published estimates in turkeys suggests that the genetic correlation may get stronger in magnitude following selection for increased body weight. 7. This could arise from fixation during selection of genes favouring larger weights but with minimal effect on egg production, leaving the segregating genetic variation dominated by pleiotropic loci with antagonistic effects on the traits. 8. Thus, in order to avoid continued selection for body weight reducing egg production to a point where natural selection offsets selection gains, alternative selection strategies should be considered.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)685-693
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • box-cox-transformation long-term selection production traits laying hens growth reproduction poultry heritability normality size

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