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Modelling of feather pecking behavior in beak-trimmed and non-beak-trimmed crossbred laying hens: variance component and trait-based approach

Modelling of feather pecking behavior in beak-trimmed and non-beak-trimmed crossbred laying hens: variance component and trait-based approach

Poultry Science 93(4): 773-783

Because of a ban on the use of beak trimming in some European countries, feather pecking is becoming a substantial problem in the layer industry, both from animal welfare and economic points of view. The feather condition score (FCS) as a measure of feather damage has been shown to be closely related to feather pecking behavior in laying hens housed in groups. To obtain a better understanding of genetic and other biological mechanisms underlying feather pecking behavior, data on FCS of a population of 2,724 female offspring from crossing 50 male W1 and 907 female WB purebred lines were used. The offspring of 25 sires were beak-trimmed, and the offspring of another 25 sires were non-beak-trimmed. Titers of plasma natural antibody (NAb) isotypes IgM and IgG binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin at 24 wk of age were measured. Feather condition was scored at 53 wk of age. In the first part of the present study, we estimated genetic parameters for FCS with 2 variance components models: a traditional linear animal model and a model combining direct and associative genetic effects. In the second part of the present study, a trait-based analysis for FCS was conducted to investigate whether NAb isotype titers can explain variation in FCS among individuals, by fitting a linear mixed model. Though the estimated associative genetic variance was substantial, associative effects for FCS were not statistically significant in both populations (P = 0.09 in beak-trimmed birds, and P = 0.08 in non-beak-trimmed birds). This suggests an insufficient number of records on FCS. Individual's NAb isotypes titers did not show direct effect for FCS of itself, but individual's IgG titers showed a suggestive effect on the FCS of cage mates (associative effect) in beak-trimmed laying hens, which need further confirmation.

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Accession: 054417521

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24706953

DOI: 10.3382/ps.2013-03367

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