Genetic correlation between heart ratio and body weight as a function of ascites frequency in broilers split up into sex and health status

A.M. Closter, P. van As, M.G. Elferink, R.P.M.A. Crooijmans, M.A.M. Groenen, A.L.J. Vereijken, J.A.M. van Arendonk, H. Bovenhuis

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Ascites or pulmonary hypertension syndrome is a metabolic disorder in broilers. Male broilers have a higher BW and are therefore expected to be more prone to developing ascites than females. As genetic parameters might be affected by the ascites incidence, genetic parameters might differ between male and female broilers. The aims of this study were to estimate the heritability for the ratio of right ventricular weight to total ventricular weight (RATIO) and BW in male and female broilers, the genetic correlation between RATIO and BW separately for male and female broilers, and the genetic correlations between BW for ascitic and nonascitic broilers. Data were available from 7,856 broilers (3,819 males and 4,037 females). The broilers in the experiment were kept under a cold temperature regimen and increased CO2 levels. In this study, we showed that the incidence of ascites is higher in male than in female broilers. Heritability estimates for BW at 7 wk of age were higher for male (0.22) than for female (0.17) broilers, and for RATIO heritability, estimates were higher for female (0.44) than for male (0.32) broilers. The genetic correlations between RATIO and BW measured at different ages changed from slightly positive at 2 wk of age to moderately negative at 7 wk. The change in genetic correlation was more extreme for male (from 0.01 to -0.62) than for female (from 0.13 to -0.24) broilers. The difference in ascites incidence between male and female broilers is the most likely reason for the difference in genetic correlations. The genetic correlation between BW traits measured in broilers with fluid in the abdomen and without fluid in the abdomen decreased from 0.91 at 2 wk to 0.69 at 7 wk. We conclude that under circumstances with ascites, data from male and female broilers should be analyzed separately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-564
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • pulmonary-hypertension syndrome
  • right ventricular hypertrophy
  • normal mixture model
  • somatic-cell scores
  • carcass traits
  • chickens
  • growth
  • parameters
  • lines
  • selection

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