Selecting broilers for water-conversion ratio has no effect on other economically important traits, potentially paving the way for a route to greater sustainability in production.
In work presented at the International Poultry Scientific Forum1, researchers at University of Tennessee bred a line of high water-conversion ratio birds, which are more water efficient, and another of low water-conversion ratio, in order to assess the impact of this selection by the fourth generation.
They found that breeding for the characteristic had no effects on feed-conversion ratio or bodyweight, with neither of the populations or a third, random control group significantly differing in these respects.
Global food production needs to explore options to improve resource efficiency, the researchers said, and the study suggests that water efficiency could be a useful parameter for breeders supplying the broiler industry.
1 Helt, J, et al. Understanding the impact of selection for water conversion ratio in broilers. International Poultry Scientific Forum, 2023, Atlanta, USA.