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Gait in ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and chickens (Gallus gallus) – similarities in adaptation to high growth rate

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    Rights statement: © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1085
JournalBiology Open
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2016


Genetic selection for increased growth rate and muscle mass in broiler chickens has been accompanied by mobility issues and poor gait. There are concerns that the Pekin duck, which is on a similar selection trajectory (for production traits) to the broiler chicken, may encounter gait problems in the future. In order to understand how gait has been altered by selection, the walking ability of divergent lines of high and low growth chickens and ducks was objectively measured using a pressure platform, which recorded various components of their gait.
In both species, lines which had been selected for large breast muscle mass moved at a slower velocity and with a greater step width than their lighter conspecifics. These high-growth lines also spent more time supported by two feet in order to improve balance when compared to their lighter, low-growth conspecifics.
We demonstrate that chicken and duck lines which have been subjected to intense selection for high growth rates and meat yields have adapted their gait in similar ways. A greater understanding of which components of gait have been altered in selected lines with impaired walking ability may lead to more effective breeding strategies to improve gait in poultry.

    Research areas

  • Chicken, Poultry, Gait, Pekin Duck, Leg Health

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