Effect of Repeated Backcrossing of an Egg Line to a Commercial Sire Line

By K. E. Nestor, J. W. Anderson, R. A. Patterson, and S. G. Velleman - The turkey industry's view of the relative economic importance of growth and egg production has changed rapidly, and genetic changes by selection within lines may not be rapid enough to meet the changing needs.
calendar icon 13 November 2006
clock icon 3 minute read


The objective of the present study was to determine the feasibility of rapidly increasing the BW of dam lines by repeated backcrossing of a dam line (E) to a commercial sire line (B). The experimental E line was selected long-term for increased egg production and was used as the model for a turkey dam line.

The B line was larger (more than 3-fold) in BW at 8, 16, and 20 wk of age, had wider breasts (approximately 1.8-fold) at 16 wk of age, and had lower egg production for 180 d (about 3-fold) than the E line. Based on additive genetic variation, males in the F1 generation of the B × E cross did not differ from expected in BW at any age, but females of this cross had BW less than expected at 16 and 20 wk of age.

In the F1 generation, breast width of the cross did not differ from the expected value, but egg production for 180 d was greater than expected (126.6 vs.102.3 eggs/hen). After 3 generations of backcrossing, the backcrosses exhibited a gain in 20-wk BW of 12.5 and 8.8 kg, respectively, for males and females; a gain of 5.9 and 5.3 cm in breast width at 16 wk of age for males and females, respectively; and a loss of 74.1 eggs per hen over a 180-d production period.

Based on the results of the current and a previous study, limited backcrossing of a dam line to a sire line may be an economically feasible method to greatly increase the BW of dam lines without unduly sacrificing egg production. For maximum gains per generation, backcrossing probably should be used for a maximum of 2 or 3 generations.

The study is published in Poultry Science, Volume 85, September 2006 edition

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