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Clutch traits were proposed as a more detailed description of egg-laying patterns than simple total egg production. In this study, egg production of 23,809 Rhode Island Red (RIR) and 22,210 White Leghorn (WL) hens was described in terms of number of clutches, average and maximum clutch size, age at first egg, total saleable egg production, and percentage of egg defects. Genetic parameters were estimated using a six-trait animal model. Of the phenotyped birds, 1433 RIR hens and 1515 WL hens were genotyped with line specific 50K Affymetrix Axiom single nucleotide polymorphism chips to perform genome-wide association analyses. Moderate heritabilities were estimated for clutch traits of 0.20 to 0.42 in the RIR line and 0.29 to 0.41 in the WL line. Average and maximum clutch size was positively genetically correlated with total saleable egg number in both lines. Genome-wide association analysis identified seven regions that were associated with egg production in the RIR line and 12 regions in the WL line. The regions identified were line and trait specific, except for one region on chromosome 6 from 28 to 29 Mb that influenced number of clutches and maximum and average clutch size in WL hens. Regions associated with egg production identified here overlapped with 260 genes, with some strong positional candidates based on gene ontology including WASH1, which is involved in oocyte maturation, NPVF, involved in regulation of follicle-stimulating hormone secretion, and FOXO3, involved in oocyte maturation and ovulation from the ovarian follicle. Confirmation of the role of these genes in regulation of egg production pattern will require further studies.
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Poultry Science Association Inc.
Wolc, Anna; Jankowski, T.; Arango, J.; Settar, P.; Fulton, J. E.; O'Sullivan, N. P.; and Dekkers, Jack C. M., "Investigating the genetic determination of clutch traits in laying hens" (2019). Animal Science Publications. 635.