The growth of turkeys 1. Growth of the body and feathers and the chemical composition of growth

1. The potential growth of modern turkey genotypes was measured using male and female BUT 6 (BUT) and Hybrid Converter (HYB) strains. At one-day-old, 720 male and 960 female poults were randomly allocated to 48 littered pens in two houses with 30 males or 40 females of each strain per pen. Five feeds of decreasing protein content were fed to both sexes during the growing period.

2. Birds were weighed at 1, 7, 14, 21, 35, 56, 77, 119 d (males only), 126 d (females only) and 140 d (males only) and, on each occasion, six birds were selected and removed for carcass analysis.

3. Growth was similar in both strains, but the growth rate of females appeared to decline relative to the earlier trajectory after 70 d, and this tendency being greater in HYB females.

4. HYB birds of both sexes had more feathers than BUT to 77 d, but thereafter these differences were non-significant. A single allometry between feather and body protein weight was observed over all genotypes with no differences apparent between sexes within strains. The Gompertz curve adequately described the growth of body protein, water and ash.

5. Body lipid (g/100g bodyweight) declined in the early stages of growth. This might reflect an energy deficiency in the diet or might indicate that the present description of lipid growth does not apply in turkeys as it does in other species.

6. Whereas the description of body growth, feather growth and the chemical components of growth given in this paper may not fully reflect the true potential of the genotypes used, nevertheless they provide useful information regarding the latest genotypes available in the turkey industry. Some of the observations suggested that current performance might be improved if further research is conducted regarding dietary energy transactions.