Main content area

Genotype-by-environment interaction with broiler genotypes differing in growth rate. 1. The effects of high ambient temperature and naked-neck genotype on lines differing in genetic background

Deeb, N., Cahaner, A.
Poultry science 2001 v.80 no.6 pp. 695-702
broiler chickens, body weight, air temperature, heterozygosity, genotype-environment interaction, genetic variation
High ambient temperature (AT) significantly depresses growth rate and meat yield of commercial broilers, thus making it a major factor hindering poultry meat production, especially in hot climates. The effects of high AT were variably moderated when feather coverage was reduced by the naked-neck gene (Na). In this study, the effects of high AT and Na were investigated in broiler progeny of hens from a sire line and two dam lines, differing in growth rate and meat yield due to different breeding histories. Heterozygous naked-neck (Na/na) males were mated with normally feathered (na/na) hens from the three lines. The 500 progeny were segregated for Na/na and na/na genotypes. After brooding, chicks of each maternal background, Na genotype, and sex were equally divided to two similar chambers and were reared on litter to 53 d of age. One chamber was set to normal AT, averaging 25 C; the second chamber was set to high AT, averaging 30 C. The high AT treatment reduced growth and meat yield in the progeny of all three groups. This reduction increased with age and was highest in the broilers produced by hens from a sire line bred for high growth rate and breast meat yield. The two other groups, produced by hens from selected and relaxed dam lines, differed in growth rate but were similarly affected by the high AT. It is suggested that the magnitude of the high AT effect depends not only on differences in potential growth rate but also on differences in overall genetic background. It was also shown that broiler performance in the final weeks could be improved by introducing the Na gene into commercial flocks. The advantage of the Na/na genotype was much more pronounced at high AT and in broilers with genetically higher growth rate and breast meat yield.