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Four genetic stocks of Leghorn pullets were used to evaluate the effects of genetic selection on growth and fearfulness behavior. Three of the stocks were the Ottawa randombred control stocks from 1950 (CS5), 1959 (CS7), and 1972 (CS10). The fourth stock was a 1993 commercial laying stock (CCS) whose ancestors were involved in the formation of the randombred control stocks. Pullets were reared in a brood and grow poultry house with flat deck cages. Each stock was comprised of 840 birds with 21 replicates per strain. Body weight and feed consumption were monitored biweekly. At 16 wk of age, a 20-hen sample from each strain was analyzed for BW, body composition, and tonic immobility. There were significant (P < 0.05) differences among the stocks for BW of 1,403; 1,333; 1,332; and 1,428 g for the CS5, CS7, CS10, and CCS stocks, respectively. Furthermore, significant differences occurred with regard to feed consumption, livability, and frame size. There were no differences among the stocks in tonic immobility. Measurement of circulating corticosterone levels were shown to be significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the CCS stock (7.64 ng/mL) than for both the CS5 (4.50 ng/mL) and CS7 (4.61 ng/mL) stocks, whereas the CS10 stock was intermediate with 6.45 ng/mL. Genetic selection has affected growth parameters, although there appears to be no change in fearfulness behavior but an increase in corticosterone levels in stocks from later years.


K E Anderson, D R Jones. Effect of genetic selection on growth parameters and tonic immobility in Leghorn pullets. Poultry science. 2012 Mar;91(3):765-70

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PMID: 22334754

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