Although non-destructive deformation is relevant for assessing eggshell strength, few long-term selection experiments are documented which use non-destructive deformation as a selection criterion. This study used restricted maximum likelihood-based methods with a four-trait animal model to analyze the effect of non-destructive deformation on egg production, egg weight and sexual maturity in a two-way selection experiment involving 17 generations of White Leghorns. In the strong shell line, corresponding to the line selected for low non-destructive deformation values, the heritability estimates were 0.496 for non-destructive deformation, 0.253 for egg production, 0.660 for egg weight and 0.446 for sexual maturity. In the weak shell line, corresponding to the line selected for high non-destructive deformation values, the heritabilities were 0.372, 0.162, 0.703 and 0.404, respectively. An asymmetric response to selection was observed for non-destructive deformation, egg production and sexual maturity, whereas egg weight decreased for both lines. Using non-destructive deformation to select for stronger eggshell had a small negative effect on egg production and sexual maturity, suggesting the need for breeding programs to balance selection between eggshell traits and egg production traits. However, the analysis of the genetic correlation between non-destructive deformation and egg weight revealed that large eggs are not associated with poor eggshell quality.
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