Correlated responses to long-term divergent selection for 8-week body weight in female White Plymouth Rock chickens: Sexual maturity

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Reported here are correlated responses for reproductive traits to long-term divergent selection (54 generations) for 8-week body weight (BW8). Comparisons involved both selected and relaxed lines. Traits measured were age at first egg (AFE), body weight at first egg (WFE), and ratio of body weight and age at first egg (WAFE). Although sexual maturity was delayed in the selected lines, the effect was more pronounced in the low than high selected and relaxed lines. Selection for low BW resulted in decreases in WFE and WAFE. Correlated responses to selection for high BW were increased WFE and WAFE. Minimum AFE, WFE, and WAFE in relation to sexual maturity were line specific and influenced by selection for BW8. WAFE provided a “yardstick” for target body weights that were optimum for successful attainment of sexual maturity and higher reproductive rates. Such may be line specific. There was opposition between relaxed and artificial selection, resulting in a higher reproductive performance and fitness for the former.

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