PHENOTYPIC AND GENETIC ANALYSIS OF PERFORMANCE AND WELFARE TRAITS IN PEKIN DUCKS
The White Pekin duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) is the most widely consumed duck protein in the world. Total duck meat production had a global annual increase of 2.1% per year from 2010 to 2019. The increase in duck meat production can be credited to improved management strategies, nutritional programs, and genetic improvement made to the Pekin ducks by structured breeding programs. Regardless of the advancements already achieved by Pekin duck breeding programs, improvements can still be made. One such improvement that can be made in Pekin duck populations is reducing the frequency of the emerging welfare concern known as flip-over (FO). We hypothesize that egg quality traits, wingspan, back length, and hip width are genetically influenced and their inclusion into Pekin duck breeding programs can be used to improve the Pekin duck. Egg quality traits were collected at weeks of age 30, 32, 35 and 40 on two generations of Pekin duck hens. All heritability estimates and Genetic correlations were calculated using BLUPF90 software, the Restricted Maximum Likelihood (REML) method, and 9,418 individuals in the pedigree. All egg quality traits evaluated are moderate to highly heritable ranging from 0.23 for egg shape to 0.70 for shell ratio. Two hatches of 1,200 Pekin duck hens were assessed at day of age 23 and 30 for wingspan, hip width, and back length using image analysis. Wingspan, hip width, and back length were found to be heritable ranging from 0.04 ± 0.013 to 0.27 ± 0.025 for hip width and back length respectfully. This thesis will discuss approaches to evaluating genetic parameters of egg quality traits in hatching eggs and the possibility of reducing FO through the selection of increased wingspan length.
- Master of Science
- Animal Sciences
- West Lafayette