Peking ducklings were classified at 6 weeks of age according to their body weights in two categories: R, below the overall mean of the flock which were considered as retarded growth; and L, those of body weight equal to the overall mean and above which were considered as large. From each group, males and females were chosen to be parents of the next generation in a ratio 1:5 at 6 months of age and four systems of matings were conducted: RR, LL, RL and LR.
At all ages studied the large ducklings were significantly heavier than retarded growth ones and had significantly greater body gain, during the two successive generations.
The RL and LR matings were heavier than the RR and LL groups at the different ages studied, indicating an effect of heterosis and that the retarded growth character is controlled by few pairs of genes. The differences due to mating systems were not significant either in body weight or body gain, except in body weight at 18 and 24 weeks and relative gain at 6 weeks of age in which the differences were significant (P <0·05) in the second generation.
The other environmental factors studied were sex, month of hatch and 6-week body weight.
Heritability estimates were 0·489, 0·509, 0·576, 0·346, 0·713, 0·809, 0·651 and 0·386 for body weight at hatch 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 18 and 24 weeks of age, respectively, using the data which were adjusted for the effects of sex, month of hatch, 6-week body weight and mating system. The same estimates were 0·482, 0·554, 0·578, 0·352, 0·713, 0·808, 0·650 and 0·386, respectively, using the same data but adjusted for month of hatch and sex only.
Phenotypic and genetic correlations between body weights at different ages for the two sets of data were estimated. The phenotypic correlations were negative between body weight at hatch and each of the body weights at 16 and 18 weeks of age for the two corrected sets of data. The genetic correlations were negative between hatch weight and each of the other body weights for the two adjusted sets of data and between body weight at 4 weeks of age and each of the body weights at 16, 18 and 24 weeks only for the first set of data. Phenotypic and genetic correlations between the body weights in older birds were highly positive.