Breeding a Broiler for the Indian Market G. L. JAIN Venco Research and Breeding Farm Ltd., Pune, 411025, India. ABSTRACT India grows 800 million broilers annually. The broiler industry is expected to grow at the rate of ten per cent per annum. Broilers are grown in open sided houses under sub-optimal hygienic conditions with low energy feeds (2800 to 2850 Kcal/kg). Almost 95 % broilers are sold on live weight basis. There is very little deboning done (0.2%) and breast meat yield is of no relevance at present. There is no concept of white meat and dark meat. Broiler farmer and hatcheryman are two separate entities owned by different owners. The product to be marketed in India must be well balanced. It should excel in both broiler and breeder traits so that both the hatcheryman and the broiler farmer make money independently. Commercial broiler breeding in India started more than two decades ago. It was carried out in the environment and husbandry practices in which the final products (broiler and breeders) have to perform. The number of traits considered and the economic weightage attached to different traits in a breeding program are in tune with the market requirements. In the random sample tests conducted by the Government of India, the indigenously bred broilers, in general, have out performed those based on imported GP’s in broiler traits. Indigenously bred broiler breeders lay, in general, more eggs and even have better hatchability than those breeders produced from imported GP stocks. The superior performance of indigenously bred broiler breeds is further proved from the fact that over 80% market share is enjoyed by these breeders inspite of four major imported GP based breeds available in the country. (Key words: breeding, broiler, India) INTRODUCTION Domestication of poultry is said to have started in Indian subcontinent. The earliest record of poultry dates back to around 3200 BC in India. However, the establishment of franchisee hatcheries of International poultry breeding companies gave momentum to commercial poultry farming in sixties. Annual broiler production in 1970 was 4 million only. After three decades, annual broiler production reached 800 million (Table1). Thus broiler farming became the fastest growing sector of Indian Agriculture. However, inspite of such growth, per capita consumption of broiler still remains less than one kg. In India, large population does not eat beef or pork due to religious reasons. The sources of meat are mutton and chicken. Grazing pastures for sheep and goat are becoming scarce, resulting in gradual reduction in mutton production. Remaining alternative is chicken. Therefore, in future also, the broiler production is expected to grow at 10 % per annum. TABLE 1. Annual broiler production in India Year Broiler Production (Million) 1970 4 1980 30 1985 75 1990 200 1995 400 2000 800 Inspite of 800 million per annum production, Indian broiler industry has some distinct features, which are different from most of the other major broiler growing countries of the world. These differences are as follows: A Climatic Conditions And Husbandry Practices 1. Variation in Temperature. There is a considerable variation in temperature and humidity between seasons and between day and night within seasons. The temperature would vary from as low as 40C in winter nights to as high as 470C in summer days with daily temperature fluctuation of 150C to 300C between day and night. 2. Open Sided Houses. Approximately 95% of broilers are grown in open sided houses. The temperature in these houses may vary from 100C in winter nights to 400C in summer days. The broiler farmer and breeder flock owners do not install environment control devices due to (a) high capital cost, (b) high cost of electricity, (c) frequent break down of power supply in villages where almost all the farms are located and (d) availability of cheap labor. 3. Flock Size. The flock sizes vary from as small as 200 broilers to 25,000 broilers per batch. 4. Non availability of High-energy Ration. Due to religious reasons, use of beef tallow in animal feed is banned. Inclusion of vegetable oils is not cost effective. Therefore, a typical Indian broiler ration would have only 2800 to 2850 Kcal/kg of feed compared to 3100 to 3200 Kcal/kg of feed used in other countries. Similarly, broiler breeder ration would have 2600 Kcal/kg or even less. 5. Sub-optimal Hygienic Standards. Since most of the flock sizes are small and a village may have a number of such small farms, the desired quarantine and hygienic standards are seldom maintained. B Market Requirements 1. Almost 95 % broilers are sold on live weight basis and of the remaining 5 %, most are dressed and sold as fresh chilled. 2. There is no concept of white meat and dark meat and therefore there is no premium on breast or breast meat. 3. The broiler producer and hatcheryman are two separate entities owned by different owners. Thus, there are two distinct profit centers viz.: (a) the hatcheryman who owns the parent breeder and hatchery, and supplies the day-old broiler chicks to broiler farmers and (b) the broiler farmer who grows the broilers and sells to wholesalers and retailers. Both of these should independently make money. BREEDING FOR TOLERANCE TO CLIMATIC STRESSES It has been shown that heat stress has a strong negative effect on broiler growth and feed efficiency (Cahaner and Leenstra, 1992). The heat stress is more pronounced in fast growing commercial broilers, than in non-selected meat-type lines with respect to decrease in body weight gain, increase in mortality and feed conversion ratio. (Washburn et al., 1992; Eberhart and Washburn, 1993). Genotype Environment Interaction A number of authors have reported stock by location interaction for certain traits like egg production and mortality in layers and feed conversion and livability in broilers (Hartmann, 1990). Marks and Huston (1973) observed that Japanese quail selected for increased four- week body weight were less tolerant to heat stress at 450C than unselected control line. In an extensive study, El.Gendy and Washburn (1992) have shown that it is possible to select for heat tolerance in broiler stocks by selecting for body weight under heat stress. In an interesting experiment Cahaner et al. (1996) grew offsprings of fast growing (selected) parents and normal (average) growing parents in temperate environment and in high ambient temperature environment. Their results indicated that the genetic advantage of the fast growing group, obtained by a within-line selection similar to the breeding procedure used by commercial breeders in temperate climate, could not be expressed under heat stress conditions. In other words, experimental selection on body weight was very successful for temperate environment, but less effective for hot environments. Another experiment conducted in Turkey, Cahaner et al. (1996) showed that summer weight gain between 4 to 7 weeks was lower than the spring weight gain by 29 % in males and 22 % in females. Further analysis of data showed significant season by sire interaction, indicating the presence of GXE interaction resulting from the variation in the magnitude of heat induced growth depression among sire families. They further observed that GXE interaction completely masked the genetic differences between sires, as evident from non- significant sire effect in the ANOVA of their offsprings performance data from both seasons. The above cited studies clearly show that genotype environment interaction does exist. Stocks selected in a given environment may not perform as well in another environment, which is significantly different from the former. World’s leading primary broiler breeding companies are located in North America and Europe. These breeding companies keep, evaluate and select their elite stock in temperate climate with optimally controlled facilities. Realizing that genotype environment interaction does exist, these companies, while marketing their product world wide, advise and some times even insist to the broiler farmers and breeder owners to modify the climate by housing design and installing specific devices to control temperature, humidity and air flow. This advise is given in order to provide conditions in the broiler / breeder houses which represent nearly the same environment in which the birds have been selected. For the broiler farmers, with small farms in developing countries like India, this is an expensive proposition and most of the time impracticable due to high cost of electricity and frequent power breakdowns. Moreover, the depressed broiler growth due to high temperature cannot be completely alleviated by such measures (Cahaner and Leenstra, 1992). Some primary breeding companies are now embarking upon selection under simulated climatic stress. Such approach could be helpful when the stress is of a simple mono-factorial nature. That is to assume that in hot climate, the temperature is high and does not vary all through 24 hours of the day and night and that the humidity remains same throughout. However, in practice, not only the temperature and humidity varies between day and night and between different days, but the interaction of temperature and humidity with other specific environmental factors (housing, feeding and watering systems, feed etc.) also varies (Cahaner, 1996). This makes the whole problem too complicated to be able to replicate. The other alternative is to breed the chicken in the climate in which they have to perform. This approach has been recommended by Cahaner (1990), Hartmann (1990), and Mukherjee (1992). Singh (1992) observed that as compared to an U.S. bred broiler line, its counter part that had been selected in India for 10 generations exhibited better adaptation to the local environment. BROILER BREEDING IN INDIA Commercial Broiler breeding in India started more than two decades ago. Later, a few GP import based companies in private sector took up primary breeding. Initially all the companies who ventured into primary breeding, imported pure lines from abroad. Some of them out right purchased the pure lines while others set up joint ventures with pure line suppliers. These companies created necessary infrastructure to take up the breeding program. To the best of knowledge of this author, most of these companies did not provide environmentally controlled houses and they used low energy rations as could be produced in India, without adding fat (Singh, 1992). In one company with which this author is associated since the inception, all the pedigree broiler brooding - growing houses and pedigree breeder houses are open sided, subjected to vagaries of nature, wherein the temperature varied from 100C in winter nights to over 400C in summer days. Only fans are provided in summers in growing and breeding houses. This practice is continuing for the last 20 years. In fact the philosophy here is that if the bird cannot survive and perform in this relatively moderate climate, it does not deserve to be selected as breeder for next generation. Most parts of India experience much harsher summer than Pune, where this project is located. The feed provided to the pure line stock is more or less the same as used by commercial broiler farmer and breeders. The broiler ration would have 2800 to 2850 Kcal/kg compared to 3100 to 3200 Kcal/kg and the breeder ration contains, only 2600 Kcal/kg compared to 2900 Kcal/kg used in western countries. Besides, the ingredients in the rations are not just the corn-soya; other ingredients like sunflower cake, broken rice, rice polishing, peanut meal etc are used in formulating least cost ration. These treatments to the pure line stocks over the years have helped these stocks to acclimatize and adapt to Indian type of climate and feeding conditions (Singh, 1992). Breeding for Indian Market Requirement For a geneticist incharge of a breeding program, the main objective would be to reduce the cost of production of the end product, which the producer sells to its customers. As mentioned earlier, in India there are two end products sold by two different owners. The live broiler producer is interested in reducing the cost of producing one kg live broiler, which he sells to his customers. Similarly, the hatchery owner is interested in minimizing the cost of production of one-day-old broiler chick, which he sells to broiler producers. In early days of the development of broiler industry in US and other countries, the conditions were similar to current conditions in India. National broiler council of USA has given good illustration of the shift in the form in which the broilers have been sold in USA over the years (Ewart, 1993). In 1962, 80% of broilers were sold as whole chicken, which reduced to 20 % in 1992. Further processing of chicken increased from 2% in 1962 to 35% in 1992. The percentage of processed chicken must have increased further in the last 8 years. Today, broiler companies in North America, Europe and other major broiler producing countries are fully vertically integrated. They own breeders, hatchery, broilers, feed mills, processing plants, further processing and further further processing plants; with only one profit center. The shift in the form of chicken produced in USA and Europe and the emergence of vertical integration has driven the broiler genetic industry in those countries to shift the emphasis from yield of one form to yield of the other form i.e. from whole chicken to portion to meat yield. Even in the meat yield, these companies want more breast meat (white meat) yield and not the leg or thigh meat (dark meat). This is because the breast meat is sold at $ 4.0 per kg and the leg meat is sold at $2.0 per kg. Therefore, the objective of the geneticist incharge of USA or European broiler breeding program would be to reduce the cost of the end product of broiler integration i.e. to produce the saleable meat (white meat) at the least cost. In this scenario of complete integration where one owner owns the breeder, the hatchery, the broiler and the processing plant, any shortfall in one trait, say number of chicks per breeder can be compensated with improvement in another trait, say breast meat yield. The situation in India is different from above. Here, the complete shift from live broiler to dressed broiler is going to take many years, if at all it does take place. Even today, out of around 5% broilers sold as dressed, most are hand dressed. Processing of broilers by automated mechanized plant is not more than 25,000 birds per day, which is less than 8 million (1%) per year. Indian consumer does not seem to accept blast-frozen birds. One company spent millions of rupees to popularize frozen broiler with negligible impact. Indian broiler market will remain live bird market for many years to come. As stated earlier, in India, there are two distinct profit centers. Here, the short fall in any reproductive trait say egg production cannot be compensated with the improvement of the broiler trait say feed conversion ratio, because of different ownership. Therefore, the geneticist incharge of breeding program in India can not sacrifice hatchability or number of eggs to gain extra body weight or feed conversion ratio. The number of traits that should be considered for selection and the relative emphasis that the breeder places on each one of them are determined, firstly by the market need and secondly by the underlying genetic parameters and hence rate of progress possible. The traits to be considered for the selection and relative economic importance of each would be different in US and in India, simply because the broilers are sold in different forms in these countries. An increase of 1% breast meat yield could fetch approximately 8 cents additional per broiler in USA and nil in India. Similarly, in India more money is saved per broiler by improving feed conversion ratio than in USA, because feed rate in India is 20 to 21 cents per kg compared to 15 to 16 cents per kg in USA. However, it must be remembered that the customer, whether a large integrator in USA or a small farmer in India has a minimum acceptable level of each trait. For e.g. - an integrator in USA would not like to see a reduction in hatchability by 20% to get 1% extra breast meat, although value wise it may be the same. But, he would not mind sacrificing 5-10 eggs or 2- 3% hatchability to get extra breast meat as long as he makes more money at the end. In a broiler breeding program designed for Indian market, a geneticist has to consider growth rate, livability, feed conversion ratio, conformation and leg quality, in addition to the reproductive traits. For North American and European market, in addition to the traits considered for Indian market, a geneticist has to give more emphasis on traits like carcass yield, breast meat yield, fat percentage etc. Besides, he has to consider certain other traits like plant condemnation, feather covering, meat color and texture etc. It does not take much knowledge of selection to realize that, as the number of traits considered in a selection program increases, realized genetic gain per trait decreases. It is seen that most of the high breast meat yield brands have relatively inferior egg production and /or hatchability. The geneticist incharge of a breeding program in India has to keep in mind the variables that affect the cost of production of one-day-old chick, as well as one kg of live broiler. Major factors that affect the cost of production are: a) For one kg live broiler 1. Age to reach market weight 2. Feed conversion ratio 3. Livability b) For one-day old chick 1. Hen housed egg production 2. Feed per egg 3. Hatchability It is well known that there is a negative genetic correlation between the broiler traits that are of interest to the broiler producer and the reproductive traits in which the hatcheryman is interested. The decision of the broiler producer as to which brand of day-old broiler chick he should buy, is not only governed by the price of day-old chick, but also by its expected performance as broiler. Hence, he would choose a brand that produces for him one kg of live weight at least cost. It is possible to increase the number of day-old chicks per parent housed at the cost of broiler traits or improve broiler traits at the cost of breeder traits. But, in a competitive market like India, where all major brands bred in other parts of the world are available, a geneticist can not afford to be inferior in the broiler traits that are relevant to Indian market and yet, he should have best breeder performance so that the hatchery/breeder owner buys his product. The product to be marketed in India must be well balanced. It should excel in both the broiler and breeder traits. In breeding business, it is not enough to be just good. One has to be better than his competitor. It is like a race where everybody is running, one has to run a step faster than his competitor to be the champion. Every breeder makes genetic gain, the important point here is that one makes more genetic gain than competitor, and that too, not at the cost of some other trait. Breeding in Indian environment and for the Indian market requirement helps in achieving better performance in the traits that are relevant for Indian market. However, if all the products in the market originate from the breeding program conducted in Western countries in their environment and according to their market requirements, one would not be able to realize that there could be a better performance if the breeding program is located in the local area and directed according to the local market requirements. This has been amply seen in India, where indigenous breeding was started two decades ago. In the random sample tests conducted by the Government of India, the indigenously bred broilers, in general, have out performed those based on imported GP’s in broiler traits (Table 2). This author has conducted a number of in-house tests and monitored the performance of the various broiler breeds, both indigenous and imported GP based. In these tests also, the indigenously bred birds have mostly out performed the imported ones. There is no official test available on broiler breeder performance, but from the records available with the author, supplied by various hatcheries in India, and the author’s own in-house tests, it is seen that indigenously bred broiler breeders, in general, lay more eggs and even have better hatchability than those breeders produced from imported GP stocks. The superior performance of indigenously bred broiler breeds is further proved from the fact that over 80% market share of 800 million broiler market of India is enjoyed by these breeders, inspite of four major imported GP based breeds available in the country. In layers also, the indigenously bred breeds have 90% share of the Indian market, inspite of some major international GP based brands marketed in India. The results of random sample tests and the market share of indigenously bred breeds, both broilers and layers, clearly show that breeding for a given market area is more advantageous, provided the market size is big enough to support a reasonably large size breeding program. CONCLUSION From the above discussions, it can be easily said that a given breeding program could produce the most profitable product for a given area, if A) It is carried out in the environment and husbandry practices in which the final products (broiler and breeders) have to perform, B) The economic weightage attached to different traits in a breeding program are in tune with the market requirements of the area in which the product is to be marketed, C) A full scale breeding program is under taken, as there are no shortcuts in commercial poultry breeding. TABLE 2. Performance of different breeds in Random Sample Broiler Tests conducted by Government of India Year Entry Body Weight Mort. Feed conversion Margin Over Upto ratio Feed Cost (Rs) 6 wk 7 wk 7 wk 6 wk 7 wk 6 wk 7 wk 1994 Indigenous (Vencobb) 1.620 1.865 3.2 1.867 2.248 30.40 30.93 Indigenous (Starbro) 1.638 1.943 9.6 1.967 2.196 29.63 32.80 Imported (Hubbard) 1.478 1.717 3.6 1.907 2.262 27.33 28.32 1996 Indigenous (Anak) 1.795 2.125 8.0 1.90 2.09 25.01 27.03 Imported (Avian) 1.700 1.995 6.3 1.97 2.21 23.83 24.78 1996 Indigenous (Vencobb) 1.656 2.182 1.2 1.998 2.052 33.35 43.49 Indigenous (Anak) 1.725 2.125 2.8 1.906 2.095 36.00 41.64 Indigenous (Anak) 1.631 2.057 4.0 2.033 2.143 32.39 39.51 Imported (Arbor Acre) 1.629 2.000 1.2 2.010 2.188 31.48 36.54 Imported (Avian) 1.630 1.995 2.4 1.872 2.077 34.46 39.38 Imported (Arbor Acre ) 1.742 1.984 2.8 1.838 2.171 37.29 37.68 1998 Indigenous (Vencobb) 1.798 2.352 0.8 1.799 1.904 44.21 55.60 Imported (Arbor Acre ) 1.407 1.980 1.2 2.057 2.033 31.62 44.58 Imported (Arbor Acre ) 1.504 2.014 1.6 1.987 2.066 34.72 44.77 1999 Indigenous (Vencobb) 1.850 2.205 1.6 1.741 1.889 44.77 55.90 Imported (Hybro) 1.552 1.859 1.2 2.126 2.265 31.78 36.25 REFERENCES Cahaner, A., 1990. Genotype by Environment Interactions in Poultry Vol. 16. Pages 13-20 in: Proceedings 4th World Congress on Genetics applied to Livestock production, Edinburgh, UK. Cahaner, A., 1996. Improving Poultry Production under Climatic Stress through Genetic Manipulation. Vol.1 Pages 127-139 in: Proceedings 20th World Poultry Congress. New Delhi, India. Cahaner, A., N. Deeb and P. Settar, 1996. The Association between Broiler Potential growth rate and sensitivity to Heat stress. Pages 29-41. Forty-fifth Annual National Breeders roundtable proceedings St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Cahaner, A., and F.R. Leenstra, 1992. Effects of high temperature on growth and efficiency of male and female broilers from lines selected for high weight gain, favorable feed conversion and high or low fat content. Poultry Sci. 71: 1237-1250. Eberhart, D.E. and K.W. Washburn, 1993. Assessing the effects of the naked neck gene on chronic heat resistance in two genetic populations. Poultry Sci. 72: 1391-1399. El.Gendy, E.A. and K. W. Washburn, 1992. Selection for heat tolerance in young chicken. Vol. 2 Pages 65 Proceedings 19th World Poultry Congress, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Ewart, J., 1993. Evolution of genetic selection techniques and their application in the next decade. Br.Poultry Sci. 34: 3-10. Hartmann, W., 1990. Implications of genotype - environment interactions in animal breeding: genotype – location interactions in Poultry. World’s Poultry Sci. 46: 197-210. Marks, H.L. and T.M. Huston, 1973. Response of selected quail lines to heat stress. Poultry Sci. 52:1668-1670. Mukherjee, T.K., 1992. Usefulness of indigenous breeds and imported stocks for poultry production in hot Climates. In Vol. 2 pages 31-37. Proceedings 19th World Poultry Congress, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Singh, H., 1992. Selection for adaptability to sub-optimal conditions. Vol. 2 Pages 597-599 in Proceedings 19th World’s Poultry Congress, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Washburn, K.W., El-Gendy, and D.E. Eberhart, 1992. Influence of body weight and response to a heat stress environment. Vol. 2, pages 53-56. Proceedings 19th World’s Poultry Congress, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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