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A retrospect of broiler breeding research in India

Orissa Veterinary College, Bhubaneswar-3
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Broiler production has been the fastest growing sub-sector of Indian agriculture. It increased from 4 million broilers in 1971 to 1600 million broilers in 2003. India today ranks 5 th in the world in broiler production only next to USA, China, Brazil and Mexico in that order. In early stages of broiler production all the inputs including genetically improved germ plasm had to imported from outside. Even though the import of grand parent stocks of broilers still continues policy of the government has favoured establishment of pure line broiler breeding programmes both in public and private sector. Not much information is available about the kind of breeding programme followed and magnitude of the project undertaken in the private sector, the commercial broilers developed as a result of pure line breeding programme undertaken in the private sector by Venketeswar hatcheries, Pune, Kasila Farm, Hederabad and others have given comparable performance to the best stocks of broilers available in the world market. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, (ICAR), the nodal public sector organization for the agriculture research in the country has taken up broiler breeding programme at its own institutes viz. CARI and PDP as well as at some of the agriculture universities in form of institutional projects, All India Coordinated project, adhoc projects etc. A brief account of the research undertaken in public sector for development of superior broiler genetic stocks and the results obtained there to will be discussed.

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Diallel crossing for broiler production sanctioned by ICAR with centers at IVRI, Izatnagar and UAS, Bangalore was the 1 st project in the country in the field of broiler breeding research. The project was sanctioned in 1969 and was merged with AICRP on poultry breeding in 1971 when AICRP was sanctioned and was executed by ICAR with centers at IVRI, Izatnagar, UAS, Bangalore, OUAT, Bhubaneswar and Madras Veterinary College, Madras. Two more centers one at PKV, Akola and other at Govt. of Sikim and one sub-center at PAU Ludhiana were opened during 5 th plan period. Adohc center was upgraded to a full center subsequently. Some of these centers were phased out on the recommendations of review committee and in 8 th plan research in broiler is being carried out only at CARI, Izatnagar, UAS, Bangalore, PAU, Ludhiana and OUAT, Bhubaneswar. JNKV center which was previously a center of AICRP on poultry for eggs has been converted to a center of poultry for meat and working exclusively on dwarf broilers.

Besides these above projects ICAR also undertook a project on development of specialized sire and dam line for production of commercial broiler at HAU, Hissar and OUAT, Bhubaneswar. The results realized from all these experiments are summarized below.


Strains of Pure line White rock, White Cornish and New Hampshire available in the country constituted the experimental material for diallel crossing in broiler production as well as during the 1 st phase of AICRP on poultry breeding. Subsequently a few genetic stocks of White rock and Cornish and Red Cornish breed were imported from Israel and USA. Evaluation, selection and regeneration of each strain and evaluation of their performance in cross combinations were the main features for investigation. PDP was used as a testing center for the comparative evaluation of broiler crosses developed at different centers.

Synthetic stocks were developed at some of the centers like CARI, Ludhiana and OUAT utilizing the commercial germ plasm available in the country. Body weight to the marketing age was the principal trait of selection and received major emphasis in the breeding programme. Initially both males and females of each line were selected on the basis of individual 10-week body weight. The age at selection was subsequently reduced to 8/6 weeks based on the progress made and contemporary development in the industry. Now selection is being practiced on the basis of 5 th week body weight.

Variable pressure in the selection programme is also given to the body confirmation traits in male line and egg production in the female line. For improving fertility and hatchability, the male and female individuals selected earlier on the basis of other traits are tested for their fertility and hatchability prior to mating season and those with poor performance are rejected and not allowed to become the parents of next generation. 240 females and 40 males were selected in each line and mated random with restriction on full and half sib mating to reproduce the next generation. Now the number of individuals measured have been increased as a result more number of males and females are selected in each generation to reproduce the next generation. At present 70 males and 560 females are selected in each generation and 10,000 chicks are measured up to 5 weeks of age.

Besides selection, the genetic stocks developed in the project were crossed in all possible or in specific combinations at intermittent intervals in each center to study the performance of lines in cross combination. Crosses developed in the center were also tested at Random Sample centers and at the projects own testing center and those crosses with repeatable satisfactory performance were supplied to the farmers under field testing programme.

Data generated on crosses were subjected to diallel analysis to evaluate the genetic effects influencing the broiler traits measured in pure line and their crosses.



The salient findings arising from the studies are as follows.

  1. Selection for 10/8/6/5 week body weight resulted in positive improvement in all the populations under study. The magnitude of response however, varied considerably among the populations due to variable intensity of selection applied. The average response per generation calculated from regression of generation means on generation numbers was positive for all lines.
  2. Improvement was also recorded in shank length and breast angle.
  3. Except CARI, feed efficiency was studied at all the centers as a correlated trait. Data revealed improvement in feed efficiency from generation to generation although of similar magnitude. In some generation improvement in feed efficiency was also negative.
  4. At CARI index selection was also used with body weight and residual feed efficiency as component traits of index. Genetic gain was usually higher for the index line than mass selection line.
  5. The percentage mortality to broiler age was within the permissible mortality for most of the population studied in most of the generations.
  6. The average age at 1 st egg marginally declined as a correlated response to selection for juvenile body weight. But the trend was positive in almost all the synthetic populations.
  7. Both in terms of production and reproduction restricted feeding showed a favourable impact on production and reproduction traits in many population.
  8. Wide variation was observed for egg production from year to year and from location to location.
  9. Selection in pure line brought about concomitant improvement in their crosses. Crosses those generated were always found to be superior to their parents for body weight at 10/8/6 weeks of age as well as for other broiler traits like feed efficiency and viability to broiler age.
  10. The Cornish lines performed better as sire line and Rock lines as dam lines for production of commercial broiler.
  11. The pure and cross lines involving synthetic populations consistently performed better than pure bred stocks.
  12. IC 3 as male line and IR 3 as female line resulted in golden colour commercial broilers.
  13. All the broiler traits like body weight to broiler age, feed efficiency and mortality revealed hetrosis in crosses. Maximum amount of hetrosis was observed for viability.
  14. Maternal effects were found to be important for body weight at earlier ages but declined in magnitude as the age advanced.
  15. GCA, SCA and reciprocal effects were significant for almost all the traits but GCA accounted for greater portion of the total phenotypic variance.
  16. Crossbreds were found to be superior to strain crosses and pure strains with respect to 8 and 10 week body weights and viability. Dressing percentage was slightly more in pure strains with no significant difference among the mating systems. On the basis of overall performance, the strain crosses were intermediate to cross breeds and pure strains, crossbreds being the best.
  17. For body weight at 8 and 10 weeks and dressed weight percentage 3 and 4 way crosses were generally superior to the 2 way crosses. Single crosses were superior to the multiple crosses studied for percent viability but this was no significant statistically. Body weight at 8 weeks was highest in 4-ways crosses followed by 3-way crosses. Body weight at 10 weeks in the 3-way crosses was highest followed by that in 4-way and 2-way crosses. The superior performance of multiple crosses over that of single crosses for highly heritable traits was attributed to the favourable combination effects of genes in addition to material and/or sex linked effects of hybrid parents.
  18. Crosses involving synthetic sire and dam lines developed at CARI have performed fairly well at RSBT tests. The seven week body weight varied from 1469 to 1654 g during 1989-91.
  19. The crosses derived from dwarf dam line population mated to a normal sire line population gave comparable performance resulting from both sire and dam line.
  20. Studies carried out at Ludhiana showed higher semen volume better sperm count and better sperm viability for the males reared and housed in cages than those reared on floor. Significant housing and line interactions were observed for these characters also.
  21. The plumage colour had a significant effect on 6 weeks body weight of Pb1,and Pb2 broilers. Non-white birds were significantly heavier than white ones, this being more pronounced in females. Among the coloured birds barred stocks were heavier than their non-barred coloured counterparts. The sequence of performance in the decreasing order was barred, blue, laced, red, multicolored and black. For 20 and 40 week body weight, these difference were statistically significant in pb-2.
  22. On the basis of the performance at home farm, at projects own testing center and at Random sample tests four commercial broilers have been released from AICRP on Poultry breeding. These include B-77 and IBI-91 broilers from CARI, Izatnagar; IBL-83 broilers from University of Agriculture Science, Bangalore and IBL-80 broilers from PAU, Ludhiana.


Due to increase in number of birds for testing in each population under study Bhubaneswar and Bangalore centers are maintaining one population each and two population each at Ludhiana and CARI. (Table-1). Jabalpur center is working on dwarf broiler line.

The performance of these lines during 2003-04 for 5 th week body weight, FCR and viability to 5 weeks are presented in Table-1.




5wk BW











































The performance of the crosses at RSBT has been presented in Table-2.


Test year


Cross code



6 th wk

7 th wk

6 th wk

7 th wk















It is difficult to draw any conclusion since pure lines studied earlier are not available at present except Pb1 and Pb2. However, the general conclusions that can be drawn are as follows.

  1. There has been significant improvement in the performance of broiler. The body weight achieved at 5 week of age at present has been comparable to those achieved in late 70s and early 80s.
  2. Similarly there has been significant improvement in FCRs.
  3. Most of the commercial stocks developed in the project are with colour plumage. These broilers are about 250-300 g inferior to the commercial broilers available from private hatcheries sources. Partly this is due to non availability of superior genetic stocks from which industrial broilers have been developed for use in the project. Secondly the coloured broilers grow slowly compared to industrial broilers. Although colour broilers are more efficient in their performance in sub-optimal condition.

Literature Utilized

Agarwal, C.K.; Mohapatra S.C., Saxena S.C. and Pati S.K. (1978). Magnitude of heterosis for various broiler traits. Ind. Poult. Gaz. 62 (1):16-23.

Agarwal, C.K.; Mohapatra S.C., Sinha, S.P., Ahuja, S.D and Sharma P.N. (1970). Evaluation of pure and crossbred for juvenile body weight, breast angle and shank length. Ind. Vet. J.56 (5): 385-392.

Annual report, (1989-90) and (1994-95). Project Directorate on Poultry, ICAR, Krish Bhavan, New Delhi.

Chaudhary, R.P. (1994). Breeding for feed efficiency in broiler male line. Final Report of ICAR Emeritus Scientist Project, CARI, Izatnagar, India.

Jain, G.L., Colte, D.V., Joglekar, S.R. and Prakash Babu, M. (1992). Evaluation of 4 lines each selected for 6 weeks body weight, feed consumption, index of both the traits and random breed control. Proc. Of the XIX World Poultry Congress, Amsterdam.

Kanavikar, C.R., Mohapatra, S.C., Sharma, P.N. and Sinha, S.P. (1978). Comparison of 2-way, 3-way and 4-way crosses for some broiler traits in chicken. Ind. J.Anim. Sci. 48(7): 515-519.

Mishra, P.K., Mohapatra, S.C. and Mishra S.C. (1995). Evaluation of response to individual selection for six week body weight in broilers. Ind. J. Poult. Sci.30 (3):185-191.

Pati, S.K.; Mohapatra S.C.; Sinha, S.P.; Agarwal, S.K.; and Meheta, N.T. (1975). Comparison of purebreds, strain and breed crosses for broilers traits. Ind. J. Poult. Sci.10 (3):142-148.

Pati, S.K.; Mohapatra S.C.; Sinha, S.P.; Ahuja, S.D.; Saxena, S.C. and Sharma, R.P. (1975). Gene effects influencing the broiler traits in chickens as estimated from diallel mating system. Ind. J. Poult. Sci.10 (4):225-234.

Annual report, (2002-03) and (2003-04). Project Directorate on Poultry, ICAR, Krish Bhavan, New Delhi.

Source : IPSACON-2005