Genetic and phenotypic parameter estimates for body weights and egg production in Horro chicken of Ethiopia

N. Dana, E.H. van der Waaij, J.A.M. van Arendonk

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A breeding program has been established in 2008 to improve productivity of Horro chicken, an indigenous population in the western highlands of Ethiopia. The pedigree descended from 26 sires and 260 dams. Body weights were measured every 2 weeks from hatch to 8 weeks then every 4 weeks for the next 8 weeks. Egg production was recorded to 44 weeks of age for one generation. Genetic parameters were estimated using animal model fitted with common environmental effects for growth traits and ignoring common environment for egg production traits. Direct heritabilities ranged from low (0.15¿±¿0.08), for body weight at 6 weeks, to moderate (0.40¿±¿0.23), for hatch weight. Heritabilities of common environmental effects on growth were high at hatch (0.39¿±¿0.10) and remained low afterwards. Age at first egg showed a very low heritability (0.06¿±¿0.15). Heritabilities of egg numbers in the first, second, third, and fourth months of laying were 0.32 (±0.13), 0.20 (±0.16), 0.56 (±0.15), and 0.25 (±0.14), respectively. Heritabilities of cumulative of monthly records of egg numbers were from 0.24¿±¿0.16 (for the first 2 months, EP12) to 0.35¿±¿0.16 (over the 6 months, EP16). Body weight at 16 weeks of age (BW16) has a strong genetic correlation with the cumulative of monthly records: 0.92 (with EP12), 0.69 (with EP36), and 0.73 (with EP16). Besides their strong association, BW16 and EP16 showed higher heritability, relative to their respective trait categories. These two traits seemed to have common genes and utilizing them as selection traits would be expected to improve both egg production and growth performance of local chicken. However, the standard errors of estimates in this study were mostly high indicating that the estimates have low precision. Parameter estimations based on more data are needed before applying the current results in breeding programs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-28
JournalTropical Animal Health and Production
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • white-leghorn hens
  • laying hens
  • random regression
  • economic traits
  • native fowl
  • selection
  • performance
  • poultry
  • models
  • breeds

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