Inheritance of bone characteristics affecting osteoporosis in laying hens

SC Bishop, RH Fleming, HA McCormack, DK Flock, CC Whitehead*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

1. Heritabilities of a range of morphometric, radiological and strength characteristics were measured in the bones of end-of-lay hens.

2. Tibial strength (TSTR), humeral strength (HSTR) and keel radiographic density (KRD) were moderately to strongly inherited and were combined in a Bone Index which was used as a basis for selection. Data are available on 6 generations/cohorts of hens (n=1306), the last 3 of which are the progeny of divergently selected birds.

3. All bone characteristics used in the Bone Index responded rapidly to divergent selection and were strongly correlated with each other. In the last generation, the lines differed by 25% for TSTR, 13% for HSTR and 19% for KRD. The heritability of the index was 0.40.

4. There were no apparent genotype by environment interactions between birds housed at 2 different locations.

5. The incidence of bone fractures was significantly decreased in the line selected for high bone strength compared to the line selected for low bone strength. Humerus fracture incidence differed by a factor of 6 between the lines in the last generation. There was a strong quadratic relationship between tibia strength and overall fracture incidence (r(2)=0.92, P

6. The results imply that selection for enhanced bone strength can be used as a long-term strategy for alleviating the problems of osteoporosis in laying hens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000

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