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Artificial selection for improved energy efficiency is reaching its limits in Broiler chickens

Lookup NU author(s): Craig Tallentire, Dr Ilkka Leinonen, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Modern broiler chickens are a major animal husbandry success story, both in terms of efficient resource utilisation and environmental sustainability. However, continuing artificial selection for both efficiency and rapid growth will be subject to both biological limits and animal welfare concerns. Using a novel analytical energy flow modelling approach, we predict how far such selection can go, given the biological limits of bird energy intake and partitioning of energy. We find that the biological potential for further improvements in efficiency, and hence environmental impact reduction, is minimal relative to past progress already made via artificial selection. An alternative breeding strategy to produce slower-growing birds to meet new welfare standards increases environmental burdens, compared to current birds. This unique analytic approach provides biologically sound guidelines for strategic planning of sustainable broiler production.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tallentire CW, Leinonen I, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2018

Volume: 8

Online publication date: 18/01/2018

Acceptance date: 27/12/2017

Date deposited: 18/01/2018

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-19231-2


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