Genetic parameters of feed efficiency traits and their relationships with egg quality traits in laying period of ducks
The objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for feed efficiency and relevant traits in 2 laying duck breeds, and to determine the relationship of residual feed intake (RFI) with feed efficiency and egg quality traits. Phenotypic records on 3,000 female laying ducks (1,500 Shaoxing ducks and 1,500 Jinyun ducks) from a random mating population were used to estimate genetic parameters for RFI, feed conversion ratio (FCR), feed intake (FI), BW, BW gain (BWG), and egg mass laid (EML) at 42 to 46 wk of age. The heritability estimates for EML, FCR, FI, and RFI were 0.22, 0.19, 0.22, and 0.27 in Shaoxing ducks and 0.14, 0.19, 0.24, and 0.24 for Jinyun ducks, respectively. RFI showed high and positive genetic correlations with FCR (0.47 in Shaoxing ducks and 0.63 in Jinyun ducks) and FI (0.79 in Shaoxing ducks and 0.86 in Jinyun ducks). No correlations were found in RFI with BW, BWG, or EML at either genetic or phenotypic level. FCR was strongly and negatively correlated with EML (−0.81 and −0.68) but inconsistently correlated with FI (0.02 and 0.17), suggesting that EML was the main influence on FCR. In addition, no significant differences were found between low RFI (LRFI) and high RFI (HRFI) ducks in egg shape index, shell thickness, shell strength, yolk color, albumen height, or Haugh unit (HU). The results indicate that selection for LRFI could improve feed efficiency and reduce FI without significant changes in EML or egg quality.