A pedigreed, commercial broiler population of 31 sire families was administered dietary aflatoxin at levels of either 0.0 or 5.0 μg of aflatoxin per g of diet from 7 to 21 days of age and their response assessed by various physiological parameters. Body weight, gain, packed red blood cell volume (PCV). plasma albumin, plasma protein and cholesterol responses were significantly reduced from control values by the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin diet. Males had greater body weights and gains in both dietary regimes than females. Females had significantly higher PCV, protein, albumin and cholesterol values in the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin group than their male counterparts. These differences resulted in significant sex × aflatoxin level interactions for these parameters. Coefficients of variation were increased for all parameters measured in the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin treatment compared to values for the control group. This increase was greatest for plasma protein, albumin, and cholesterol responses. Heritabilities were calculated for all responses within both treatment groups and were found to be increased in all cases by the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin diet. Highly significant phenotypic correlations were determined between body weight and gain and between plasma albumin and total plasma protein in both treatment groups. High phenotypic correlations among PCV, plasma cholesterol, plasma protein, and plasma albumin were noted in the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin group. Significant genetic correlations were determined between body weight and gain and between plasma albumin and plasma protein in the control group. Body weight and gain and plasma protein, albumin, cholesterol and PCV were genetically correlated in the 5.0 μg/g aflatoxin group. Genetic correlations calculated across environments for the same traits were high for PCV, body weight and gain and much lower for plasma albumin, plasma protein, and plasma cholesterol. The results of this study demonstrate that genetic variability for resistance to aflatoxin exists in commercial broiler populations. Strong genetic and phenotypic relationships, and high heritabilities associated with plasma albumin and protein suggest their applicability as selection criteria for aflatoxin resistance. Genetic correlation for these traits across dietary environments indicate that responses for aflatoxin resistance should be measured during aflatoxin challenge and suggest that selection for growth and selection for aflatoxin resistance are not antagonistic.
- Body weight
- Genetic correlations