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Influence of Parental Plumage Pattern on Progeny Performance

B.G. Veerannagowda G. T. Gopala M. Harisha
Vol 7(5), 140-145

A study was carried out with the objective to ascertain association between different plumage patterns with traits of economic importance and their progeny performance. The study comprised of 360 pullets and sixty cockerels classified into eleven plumage patterns. From the parents, 465 chicks were obtained and reared as per parental plumage group. The findings strongly favoured coloured plumage in parent stock in preference to white plumage for economic efficiency. Parents with coloured plumage showed better hatchability, better performance with respect to body weight and survivability. This study is helpful to replace indigenous unproductive varieties with coloured plumage birds with good performance and survivability.

Keywords : Parental Plumage Progeny Performance


Farmers have specific preferences to particular plumage pattern which have their route in camouflaging and surviving ability of chicks. Despite of the poor meat and egg production in the indigenous birds, still their meat has more palatable taste because of darker and non fatty meat. Scientific evidence does not discriminate between the eggs and meat from both indigenous and improved varieties qualitatively. However by virtue of their exposure to feed stuffs of varied nature, including those of animal origin (earthworms, insects etc), the indigenous birds utilize them more efficiently. On contrary, improved birds cannot encounter such a situation as they are reared in confinement. Further, colour of the plumage (other than white) in the indigenous birds make them more hardy and resistant to environmental stress, thus making them more adaptable to hot and humid environmental conditions (Brajen Singh, 1991).

Feather pigmentation due to melanins “Eumelanin” – responsible for solid colour ( white and black ) and “Pheomelanin’’for dilute forms of further pigmentation ( blue, buff etc.) including patterns within feathers, (barring, spangling, lacing, marbling, pencilling, mottling etc.). The bio-chemical pathways are similar for both eumelanin and pheomelanin pigmentation. The intensity of pigmentation resulting in solid or dilute colours depends on the specific stage of oxidation. Plumage pigmentation is under the control of major (qualitative) genes (Braumbaugh, 1971) and those specific loci carrying genes for pigmentation may also influence the production performance (Jaap and Grimes, 1956; Black wood et al., 1962; Fox and Smyth, 1981 and 1984). Jaap and Grimes (1956) opined that gene –I (inhibitor of black) E (extensor of black) and B (Barring causing rhythmic failure of pigment) in the feather interacted to suppress body weight. Jerome et al., 1956 and Bajwa (1990) observed that barred birds (BB, B-) had high early body weight due to better feed efficiency. The coloured chicks ( EECc ) had a significantly faster growth up to 9 weeks of age than white chicks ( EEcc ) was shown by Jerome and Huntsman ( 1959).Wild type chicks (Merat, 1959) had lesser phenotypic variances suggesting the effect of plieotropic genes including e-e + series and also modifiers. Factors affecting black, white tailed red and barred plumage colour had a beneficial effect. According to Smyth and Fox (1963) homozygous recessive white (cc) reduced (P ≤ 0.05) eight week body weights when compared to coloured genotypes (CC and Cc). Bajwa et al., 1992, reported that plumage colour had significant effect on live weight at six weeks. Brajen Singh and Lokanath (1992) reported significant differences among different plumage suggesting that body weight at six weeks of age was under genetic control and that certain loci controlling plumage pattern also controlled early body weight. Plumage pattern has an effect on performance in birds, hence a study was undertaken to assess the influence of parental plumage pattern on the progeny performance.

Materials and Methods

Three hundred and sixty pullets and sixty cockerels of a synthetic population having variegated plumage patterns (black – 53, white – 59, white with black speckles-100, non descript-39, barred-16, wheaten brown-17, dark brown-19, black with gold lace-62, black with silver lace-14, buff-37 and red speckled white-49) were selected for the study and were housed in separate pens (16) with trap nests and breeding was carried out in the ratio of six females to one male under deep litter system. The research was carried out in poultry birds at Veterinary College, Bangalore under deep litter system by obtaining ethical permissions from the Director of Research of the University. Standard nutrition and managemental practices were followed. At 20th week birds were wing banded and body weight was recorded. When the flocks reached peak production with optimum egg weight, hatching eggs were collected for ten days from these birds and were stored for ten days then incubated on the 11thday. After 21 days of incubation, 465 chicks were obtained and were wing banded according to their parental plumage pattern for identification. These chicks were reared for eight weeks separately as per their parental plumage pattern groups with scientific management practices and post – hatch performance of the pedigreed chicks were studied. Data related to fertility, body weight, traits of conformation like breast angle, shank length and keel length and survivability was obtained for fourth, sixth and eight weeks of progeny generation. The data thus obtained was tabulated and analysed using suitable statistical tools like analysis of variance as per Snedecor and Cochran (1967) and inferences were drawn.

Results and Discussion

The data presented in Table 1 shows that the mean fertility for the population was 94.79±0.39 per cent with a co efficient of variation of 2.37 per cent. Among the plumage pattern groups, dark brown pattern had highest fertility (96.63±0.98 with a co efficient of variation of 1.75%) whereas barred pattern had lowest fertility (91.48±0.72% with a coefficient of variation of 1.37%).

Table 1: Mean and Standard errors for fertility (%) at different ages as per parental plumage groups

Parental Plumage Pattern X SE CV%
Black 96.14 0.48 0.86
Buff 94.2 0.43 0.8
Non-descriptive 95.13 1.5 2.73
White 93.87 0.66 1.21
Red speckled white 95.63 0.4 0.72
Dark brown 96.63 0.98 1.75
Barred 91.48 0.72 1.37
Black with gold lace 95.27 0.55 1
Black speckled white 93.56 0.5 0.93
Wheaten brown 91.58 0.99 1.87
Black with silver lace 94.43 1.83 3.63
Pooled 94.36 0.39 2.37

As per the analysis of variance for fertility among the plumage pattern groups and the periods were non-significant (P≥0.05). Fertility is regulated by both genetic and managemental factors. Individual males and females vary in their ability to produce viable embryos.

The data presented in Table 2 show that the mean body weight of fourth week chicks was 331.66 ± 2.38 g for the population and it was found non-significant. Among the different plumage pattern groups, highest body weight of 348.30±5.75 g was observed in the progenies from white pattern group whereas progenies from black pattern group recorded lowest body weight of 319.53±8.02. These findings are in line with the findings of Fox and Smyth (Jr.) (1984) who stated that the Columbian restriction gene has no significant effect on body weights of fourth week aged birds.

Table 2: Mean and Standard errors for body weights at different ages as per parental plumage groups

Parental Plumage Pattern Fourth Week Body Weight Sixth Week Body Weight Eighth Week Body Weight
Black 319.53 8.02 639.21efg 15.65 1053.80bde 24.81
Buff 323.48 6.39 638.64efgh 11.82 1036.30 de 21.61
Non-descriptive 328.41 9.57 631.00efgh 17.08 1009.50 e 32.94
White 348.30 5.75 690.10abc 9.74 1134.10 ac 18.91
Red speckled white 344.75 8.58 712.79ab 16.86 1155.90a 27.70
Dark brown 328.36 12.25 658.36abcdef 25.22 1066.60bcde 45.69
Barred 326.18 9.65 660.81abcde 24.30 1074.80bcde 45.16
Black with gold lace 337.40 6.31 682.24abcd 12.14 1089.40bcd 17.84
Black speckled white 341.92 12.72 720.00 a 24.44 1140.00ab 52.90
Wheaten brown 327.85 5.10 607.18 h 11.75 1021.50 e 15.33
Black with silver lace 322.11 11.86 613.88efgh 22.97 1008.70 e 41.30
Pooled 331.66 2.38 659.47 4.73 1071.87 7.81

The mean body weight of sixth week chicks was 659.47 ± 73 g for the population. It was significantly variable among the plumage pattern groups suggesting that body weight at six weeks of age was under genetic control and that certain loci controlling plumage patterns also controlled early body weight. It is suggested that loci with genes for colour were responsible for inducing fast rate of growth than that of the white genotypes. This fact suggested that the intensity of pigmentation of feathers could have aided the genotypes to absorb more heat during brooding thus inducing faster growth (Kothandaraman, 1985 and Rajarathnam, 1985). The association between ‘cc’ and growth depression could be due to (i) Linkage of growth gene at the Cc locus (ii) pleiotropic relationship between these alleles and growth rate (iii) superiority of Cc over cc due to advantageous heterozygosity – findings supporting Smyth and Fox (1961). These findings are in line with findings of Tataki and Masao (1988), Bajwa et al. 1992 and Brajen Singh and Lokanath (1992).

The mean body weight of eighth week birds was 1071.87 ± 7.81 g for the population. Highest body weight at eighth week of age was recorded in the progenies from red speckled white pattern with 1155.90 ± 27.70 g and a co efficient variation of 16.77 per cent. It was significantly variable (P ≤ 0.05) among the progenies from different plumage pattern groups, suggesting that body weight at eighth week of age was under genetic control and that certain loci controlling plumage patterns also controlled early body weight. The mean breast angle for the population was 52.62 ± 0.14 degrees. It was significantly variable (P ≤ 0.05) among the progenies from different plumage pattern groups. These results are in consonance with the results of Jaap and Grimes (1956), Merat (1965), Fox and Smyth (1982) and Tataki and Masao (1988).

The data presented in Table 3 depict that mean shank length for the population was 6.27 ± 0.01 cm and it was found significantly variable (P ≤ 0.05) among the progenies from different plumage groups.

Table 3: Mean and Standard errors for conformation traits as per parental plumage groups

Parental Plumage Pattern BA (0) SL (cm) KL (cm)
Black 51.83fghi 0.35 6.14 h 0.05 8.81 j 0.07
Buff 49.27 j 0.66 6.28abcdefg 0.06 8.90hij 0.07
Non-descriptive 52.13dfgh 0.39 6.32abcd 0.05 9.04hi 0.07
White 53.84a 0.35 6.11h 0.04 9.30bcdf 0.05
Red speckled white 52.83abcdefg 0.39 6.31abcde 0.04 9.37abcd 0.05
Dark brown 51.15 hi 0.9 6.07h 0.07 9.05egh 0.08
Barred 53.37abcdef 0.75 6.43ab 0.08 9.43ab 0.15
Black with gold lace 53.67abc 0.29 6.22defgh 0.04 9.39abc 0.05
Black speckled white 53.61abcd 1.09 6.42abc 0.09 9.34abcde 0.17
Wheaten brown 53.42abce 0.28 6.30abcdef 0.03 9.27bcdefg 0.06
Black with silver lace 53.70ab 1.32 6.44 a 0.08 9.61a 0.18
Pooled 52.62 0.14 6.27 0.01 9.22 0.02

BA: Breast angle ( 0); SL: Shank length (cm); KL: Keel length (cm)

The mean keel length for the population was 9.22 ± 0.02 cm and it was found significantly variable (P ≤ 0.05) among the progenies from different plumage groups. The results from Table 4 revealed that the progenies from coloured plumage parents showed better survivability upto 8 weeks of age in comparison to progenies from white plumage pattern. The chicks from dark brown parents showed 100 per cent survivability whereas chicks from black speckled white showed lower survivability (78.43%).

Table 4: Survivability up to eight weeks of age

Parental plumage pattern Black Buff Non-descriptive White Red speckled white Dark brown Barred Black with gold lace Black speckled white Wheaten brown Black with silver lace
Survivability % 98.14 97.36 92.68 96.36 96 100 94.12 92.4 92.85 80.95 78.43

It can be thus concluded that progenies from coloured plumage parent stock showed better performance with respect to body weight and survivability upto 8 weeks of age compared progenies from white plumaged parent birds. The shank length and keel length were superior in the progenies from coloured plumage birds than progenies from white plumaged birds. In addition the coloured plumage birds have additional advantages like resemblance to local birds in colour with attractive appearance, good adaptability to scavenging conditions, sturdiness and resistance to diseases. Hence, coloured plumage birds can be reared for better performance and further the production potentiality can be assessed with different plumage birds at different levels in future.


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