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Title: Investigation of feather growth as a means of preventing breast lesions in modern turkeys
Author: Wylie, L. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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A comparative study found that feather growth had not increased with selection for body weight in the modern turkey and that the growth of breast feathers from the cranial region of the breast tract appeared to be impaired. Modern birds spent more time resting than traditional turkeys. Three possible causes of poor breast feathering were examined. First , the reduction in feather growth was an adaptive response to increased heat production resulting from fast growth rates. Second, there was competition between muscle and feathers for essential nutrients such as amino acids. Third, selection for increased breast muscle mass has not resulted in an increase in feather number and was associated with stretching of the skin and poor breast feathering. Modern turkeys reared at high (26°C) and low (15°C) ambient temperatures showed no differences in feather growth. These turkeys were also fed ad libitum or restricted quantities of feed. Turkeys on restricted feeding showed a general decrease in feather growth apart from the cranial breast feathers that were increased in length. Nutrition experiments suggested that, in the modern turkey, protein was preferentially partitioned to feather growth and that the amino acids arginine and methionine were used for feather growth in preference to muscle growth. When crude protein concentrations in the diet of the modern turkey were deficient, feather growth was maintained at the expense of body and particularly breast muscle growth. The impaired development of cranial breast feathers was associated with rapid growth of the breast muscle in the modern turkey and was not related to a deficiency of specific amino acids. No increase in feather follicle number and a reduction of the collagen content of breast skin in the modern turkey support the hypothesis that development of the integument has not increased in proportion to body weight. It was concluded that the impaired growth of cranial breast feathers were caused by the rapid growth and sedentary behaviour of modern turkey resulting in prolonged pressure on the feather tracts of the breast.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available