The Definition and Genetic Analysis of Feeding Behaviours Performed in Individual Feed Stations and their Relationship to Production Traits in Group-Housed Commercial Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)
The use of automated feeders has allowed individual feed intake and behaviour data to be collected in group-housed birds. Clear definitions of feeding behaviours were achieved by calculating meal criterion. Differences in mean meal characteristics and aversions to feeders were observed between the sire and dam line. A genetic analysis revealed that feeding behaviours are moderately to highly heritable and there is low to high range in genetic correlations between feeding behaviours and production traits such as feed efficiency. Determining feeder preferences can lead to changes in management to optimize feeder access therefore decreasing aggressive behaviours often observed at the feeders. Clearly defining feeding behaviours can lead to a more accurate comparison of phenotypes between studies. Correlations would imply that selection for more efficient birds could have an effect on their feeding behaviours. Genetic variation of feeding behaviours should be examined to determine any drifts resulting from selection emphasis on feed efficiency.