Genotype, feeding regimen, and diet interactions in meat chickens. 3. General fitness.


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Several fitness traits were measured in males from two meat lines fed diets differing in nutrient density ad libitum daily or on alternate days. Criteria of evaluation were antibody response to SRBC, blood heterophil:lymphocyte ratios, incidence of leg deformities, and resistance to Escherichia coli inoculation. Males from the heavier line had lower antibody titers to SRBC inoculation than those of the lighter line. Diets, feeding regimens, and interactions among them did not influence response to SRBC. Lines, diets, feeding regimens, and interactions among them were not significant for heterophil:lymphocyte ratios. Chicks fed daily had a higher incidence of leg deformities than those fed on alternate days. There were no differences between lines or diets, nor were interactions significant. Interactions were present between main variables for response to E. coli inoculation whether the measure was initial weight loss, recovery, or lesion scores, demonstrating the complexity of genotype-environmental relationships in resistance to this infectious agent.
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