Free Access
Genet. Sel. Evol.
Volume 37, Number 1, January-February 2005
Page(s) 105 - 122
Genet. Sel. Evol. 37 (2005) 105-122
DOI: 10.1051/gse:2004038

Divergent selection on 63-day body weight in the rabbit: response on growth, carcass and muscle traits

Catherine Larzula, Florence Gondretb, Sylvie Combesc and Hubert de Rochambeaua

a  Station d'amélioration génétique des animaux, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, BP 27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France
b  UMR sur le Veau et le Porc, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, 35590 St Gilles, France
c  Station de recherches cunicoles, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, BP 27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France

(Received 2 March 2004; accepted 3 September 2004)

Abstract - The effects of selection for growth rate on weights and qualitative carcass and muscle traits were assessed by comparing two lines selected for live body weight at 63 days of age and a cryopreserved control population raised contemporaneously with generation 5 selected rabbits. The animals were divergently selected for five generations for either a high (H line) or a low (L line) body weight, based on their BLUP breeding value. Heritability ( h2) was 0.22 for 63-d body weight ( N = 4754). Growth performance and quantitative carcass traits in the C group were intermediate between the H and L lines ( N = 390). Perirenal fat proportion ( h2 = 0.64) and dressing out percentage ( h2 = 0.55) ranked in the order $\rm L < H = C$ (from high to low). The weight and cross-sectional area of the Semitendinosus muscle, and the mean diameter of the constitutive myofibres were reduced in the L line only ( N = 140). In the Longissimus muscle ( N = 180), the ultimate pH ( h2=0.16) and the maximum shear force reached in the Warner-Braztler test ( h2=0.57) were slightly modified by selection.

Key words: rabbit / growth / selection / genetic parameters / meat quality

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004