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Differences in the expression of genes in lame and normal broiler chickens identified by subtraction hybridisation

By A. Butterworth, N. A. Reeves, T. G. Knowles, S. C. Kestin

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In the UK, broiler chickens are normally slaughtered at about six weeks of age when they weigh approximately 2.2 kg; this contrasts with the growth of an 'unimproved' traditional strain of bird such as a White Sussex, which would weigh about 800 g at the same age. Lameness, characterised by abnormal gait, posture and impaired walking ability, can be prevalent in these rapidly growing birds and has been highlighted as a major welfare concern. It is during the later stages of rearing, when the bird is becoming heavy and may be achieving weight gains of over 50 g per day, that lameness begins to have an economic and welfare impact on the flock and to compromise the behaviour of large numbers of birds. A study was carried out to identify potential differences in the expression of genes between groups of lame and normal broiler chickens using subtraction hybridization. The first group comprised lame birds with measurable gait abnormalities, and the second group comprised sound (not lame) birds. Both populations came from within the same flock. After extraction of mRNA and creation of cDNA, subtractive hybridization was performed to eliminate genetic sequences common to both populations. The resultant DNA was separated and presented for sequence data analysis and comparison with a large sequence database. Some examples of the subtracted sequences detected are given, and the potential significance of these sequence differences at the individual and group level is discussed.

Date 2003
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 12
Issue 4
Pages 661-667
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Clinical Veterinary Science, Bristol University Veterinary School, Langford, North Somerset BS40 5DU, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Birds
  7. British Isles
  8. Chickens
  9. Commonwealth of Nations
  10. Developed countries
  11. Diagnosis
  12. DNA
  13. Europe
  14. Fowls
  15. Gait
  16. Gene expression
  17. Genes
  18. Genetics
  19. Genomics
  20. Great Britain
  21. Hybridization
  22. Lameness
  23. Methodologies
  24. mRNA
  25. OECD countries
  26. peer-reviewed
  27. Poultry
  28. RNA
  29. United Kingdom
  1. peer-reviewed