Genetic parameters for egg production and egg weight of laying hens housed in single and group cages
Abstract. The present study was conducted to estimate the heritability and genetic correlation of monthly egg production and egg weight of 2 lines White Leghorn hens in single and group cages. A total of 2289 records (line A) and 2596 records (line D) from single cages, 518 and 541 records (for line A and D, respectively) from group cages, were analysed. (Co) variance components of single cage data were analysed using the programme VCE4 applying the REML method and a multiple trait animal model. An EM-algorithm was used to obtain (co) variance components for group cage data. Genetic correlations between single and group cages were analysed using the programme VCE4 based on sire model. Heritability estimates for monthly egg production in single cages ranged from 0.08 to 0.44 (line A); 0.04 to 0.43 (line D) and those for group cages were 0.02 to 0.42 (line A); 0.02 to 0.19 (line D). Egg weight was highly heritable for single and group cages (heritability = 0.25 to 0.54). The genetic correlations between monthly and cumulative egg production were 0.25 to 0.95 (line A); 0.26 to 0.86 (line D) for single cage and 0.24 to 0.84 (line A); 0.26 to 0.96 (line D) for group cage. Cumulative egg production in single cage were highly correlated with those of group cages (0.89 and 0.63, respectively for line A and line D). Single cage records gave higher estimates of genetic parameter than group records. However, the trend of estimates is almost the same. High genetic correlations were found between single- and group cages in most of the production periods.