Effect of the slow (K) or rapid (k+) feathering gene on body and feather growth and fatness according to ambient temperature in a Leghorn × brown egg type cross
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Chicks of both sexes issued from the cross of heterozygous K/k+ cocks for the slow-feathering sex linked K allele with k+ (rapid feathering) hens, were compared from the age of 4 to 10 weeks at two ambient temperatures. In individual cages, 30 male chicks of each genotype (K/k+ and k+/k+) were raised at 21°C, and 60 others, distributed in the same way, were raised at 31°C. 71 K/W females and 69 k+/W females were raised in a floor pen at 31°C till 10 weeks of age. In the males, the body weight, feed consumption and feed efficiency at different ages were influenced only by temperature (lower growth rate and feed intake at 31°C); no significant effects of the genotype at locus K nor genotype × temperature interaction were observed. In females, all at 31°C, the genotype (K/W or k+/W) had no significant effect on growth rate. Plumage weight and weight of abdominal fat (absolute or related to body weight) were measured on half of the males of each group in individual cages, at 10 weeks of age. Moreover, on 36 males and 48 females of the two genotypes, in a group battery at 31°C, the absolute and relative weight of plumage were measured on a sample every two weeks between 4 and 10 weeks. In the first case, no significant effect of genotype appeared. In the second case, an interaction between age and genotype was suggested from plumage weight: its growth, especially in male chicks, appears to be temporarily and unexpectedly faster from 4 to 6 weeks of age for the K/k+ and K/W genotypes.
Keywordsslow-feathering alleles rapid-feathering alleles growth rate feed consumption feather growth abdominal fat deposition
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