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Ghrelin: Key to Chickens' Appetite?

by 5m Editor
20 November 2003, at 12:00am

US - To improve poultry breeding and management practices, scientists are looking for a better understanding and regulation of the genes associated with birds' feed intake and energy balance.

Ghrelin: Key to Chickens' Appetite? - US - To improve poultry breeding and management practices, scientists are looking for a better understanding and regulation of the genes associated with birds' feed intake and energy balance.

They do not yet have a complete understanding of the genetic basis for the regulation of appetite and metabolism in chickens and turkeys. But they moved closer when it was discovered that while the hormone ghrelin boosts appetite in humans, it may have the opposite effect in poultry.

Now scientists have sequenced portions of the gene that produces ghrelin in chickens and turkeys. They are also exploring specific genetic differences between egg-laying and broiler chickens that might account for the significant differences in appetites exhibited by the two types of birds.

Selective breeding for lines of chickens and turkeys that grow faster and produce more meat than previous generations has resulted in some unintended changes in feed intake and body composition.

Given free access to feed, modern commercial strains of broiler chickens tend to overeat, which can lead to obesity and other health problems. This research may provide insights into controlling or preventing the occurrence of these health concerns.

Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service, Agricultural Research Magazine - 20th November 2003

5m Editor