Genetic Variation in Nitrogen and Phosphorus Levels in Broiler Excreta: Opportunity for Improving both Birds and the Environment
sasikala appukuttan, arun kirshna
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The increase in poultry meat consumption has resulted in intensified poultry farming operations with consequent concentration of excreta in major production areas. The nutrient content in the soil surrounding the poultry farms has increased as a result of the high content of nitrogen (<bold>N</bold>) and phosphorus (<bold>P</bold>) in the poultry excreta. The current study aimed to propose a strategy to reduce the N and P content in excreta through genetic selection of broilers for efficient nutrient utilization. The traits measured (on a dry matter basis) were the percentage of N in the excreta (<bold>PNE</bold>) and the percentage of P in the excreta (<bold>PPE</bold>). Individual 24-hr excreta samples were collected from 6 wk old birds. Excreta samples were collected from a commercial breeding farm at two different time periods from line A and line B birds respectively, and analyzed for PNE and PPE. Analysis of excreta samples collected during the first period (197 bird samples belonging to 15 sire families) and second period (278 birds belonging to 25 sire families) suggested a heritability of 0.08, 0.16 for PNE and 0, 0.20 for PPE, respectively. Phenotypic and genetic correlations between the measured traits from the two lines were very low; however, phenotypic correlation analysis of PNE and PPE with other traits of commercial interest showed some favorable as well as neutral associations. Blood samples collected from the birds were used for an association study of the excreta traits with four candidate genes. The candidate genes were selected based on the results of previous research. Some of the SNPs from the candidate genes were found to have additive and dominance effect on the excreta and production traits and were usually favorably associated with mutations in higher frequency in the populations. The results suggest that genetic selection of birds for PNE and PPE could improve the environment and the market value of the birds.