Pekin duck selection programs are becoming more similar to those applied for broilers. In a tough economic context (price of raw materials and feed, energy or labor…) the market demands more and more precocity of birds.
The duck must reach the body weight and body composition targets earlier to reduce production costs. Body weight targets were a few years ago around 45-49 days, the current standard is 42 days and today somemarkets even mention up to 35 days!
It is therefore imperative for breeders to meet this demand and to adapt their genetic selection criteria towards a gain in body weight without altering the performance of the carcass meat and with an improvement in feed efficiency. Other points of vigilance need to be considered and not the least! Indeed this race for earliness can, if not properly controlled, lead to serious problems of mortality (due to leg problems, reduced mobility, overturned animals, heart attack…) or meat quality (wooden breast, white striping, spaghetti meat myopathy or Oregon disease…). These phenomena are now clearly described in the literature concerning broiler selection for fast growing.
Today, Grimaud Frères proposes a Pekin Star 53 Heavy which brings this expected precocity while mastering, thanks to its innovative technology tools, a reasoned control of the genetic defects normally expected by these selection orientations.
The X-ray scanner allows to check breast meat quality or bone conditions of the birds. A combination of these high-resolutive phenotyping analyzed by deep learning with tools such as genomics allows us to make ultraprecise genomic evaluation of each subject, even for birds not evaluated by scanner. This double “scanner/genomic” control allows Grimaud Frères to accelerate genetic gain for body weight and breast meat yield without constantly worrying about possible deleterious deviations of “killer traits” like leg problem or meat quality degradation. This opportunity even allows Grimaud Frères to consider the creation, in addition to the Pekin S53 heavy product, of a new Pekin S53 Super Heavy currently evaluated for Vietnam field conditions.
The presence of these Heavy and Super Heavy ducks was an opportunity for Grimaud Frères to host in Vietnam John Houston (Chief Executive Officer of Pepe’s Ducks, Australia) and Brian Calderwood (Manager of Quality Assurance Consumer & Competitor Compliance Officer of Pepe’s Ducks) to appreciate the local performance of these two S53 genetics. The interest being for Pepe’s to integrate Grand Parental stocks in their new crossing scheme to answer the precocity expectations of the Australian market as well as the global context.
Mainly interested by the Pekin S53 Heavy product, Pepe’s teams visited two different farms belonging to Grimaud Vietnam. It was also an opportunity for Pepe’s to meet Bui Van Nhac (Grimaud Vietnam General Manager) and his team.
Bird behaviors, body weight, breast meat yield and quality of the meat matched with Pepe’s expectations. It was also the occasion to share a traditional Vietnamese meal at the breeder’s home with Pepe’s and the Grimaud Vietnam teams. A very interesting cultural mix!