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Limited effect of intense genetic selection for broiler traits on ovarian function and follicular sensitivity in broiler breeders at the onset of lay

Hocking, P.M., Robertson, G.W.
British poultry science 2005 v.46 no.3 pp. 354-360
broiler breeders, pullets, cockerels, hens, photoperiod, age at first egg, selection criteria, animal breeding, selection intensity, ovarian follicles, follicular development, heritability, gonadotropins, ovulation, laying performance, breeding lines, reproductive traits, restricted feeding, ad libitum feeding
1. Female chicks from 6 pure lines of broiler breeders were obtained from international broiler breeder companies. The lines were from three female and two male lines and a relaxed selection line derived from one of the male lines (M2) and maintained without selection for 25 years (generations). Replicate groups from each line were reared in floor pens and fed ad libitum . An additional group of the M2 male line was feed restricted and housed in similar pens. Twenty birds from each group were photostimulated after housing them in individual cages at 14 weeks of age. Ovarian follicular dynamics and follicular sensitivity were determined after the onset of lay. 2. Female lines had a greater proportion of atretic follicles and more groups of multiple follicles than male lines. Body weights, fatness and age at puberty were similar in male and female lines. 3. The relaxed selection line had more abdominal fat than any of the selected lines and the ovary contained a similar number of normal yellow follicles as the selected male line. 4. Feed restriction decreased body weight, the numbers of yellow follicles, multiple yellow follicles and the proportion of atretic yellow follicles, and increased the age at onset of lay. 5. The response of ovarian follicles of three different sizes to exogenous gonadotrophin stimulation with PMSG was similar in small yellow follicles, 5 to 6 and 2 to 3?mm white follicles in a female line, a male line and its relaxed line fed ad libitum . 6. The results suggest that the original lines from which modern male-line broiler stocks are derived had a relatively large number of yellow follicles and a high propensity for multiple ovulation at the onset of lay. Separate selection for different traits in male and female lines has not had a dramatic effect on ovarian function or sensitivity to gonadotrophin stimulation.