Estimating the purebred-crossbred genetic correlation for uniformity of eggshell color in laying hens

Herman Mulder*, Jeroen Visscher, Julien Fablet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Uniformity of eggs is an important aspect for retailers because consumers prefer homogeneous products. One of these characteristics is the color of the eggshell, especially for brown eggs. Existence of a genetic component in environmental variance would enable selection for uniformity of eggshell color. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify the genetic variance in environmental variance of eggshell color in purebred and crossbred laying hens, to estimate the genetic correlation between environmental variance of eggshell color in purebred and crossbred laying hens and to estimate genetic correlations between environmental variance at different times of the laying period. Methods: We analyzed 167,651 and 79,345 eggshell color records of purebred and crossbred laying hens, respectively. The purebred and crossbred laying hens originated mostly from the same sires. Since eggshell color records of crossbred laying hens were collected per cage, these records could be related only to cage and sire family. A double hierarchical generalized linear sire model was used to estimate the genetic variance of the mean of eggshell color and its environmental variance. Approximate standard errors for heritability and the genetic coefficient of variation for environmental variance were derived. Results: The genetic variance in environmental variance at the log scale was equal to 0.077 and 0.067, for purebred and crossbred laying hens, respectively. The genetic coefficient of variation for environmental variance was equal to 0.28 and 0.26, for purebred and crossbred laying hens, respectively. A genetic correlation of 0.70 was found between purebred and crossbred environmental variance of eggshell color, which indicates that there is some reranking of sires for environmental variance of eggshell color in purebred and crossbred laying hens. Genetic correlations between environmental variance of eggshell color in different laying periods were generally higher than 0.85, except between early laying and mid or late laying periods. Conclusions: Our results indicate that genetic selection can be efficient to improve uniformity of eggshell color in purebreds and crossbreds, ideally by applying combined crossbred and purebred selection. This methodology can be used to estimate genetic correlations between purebred and crossbred lines for uniformity of other traits and species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number212
JournalGenetics, Selection, Evolution
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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