British Poultry Science vol:51 issue:5 pages:569-579
1. Due to intensive selection, broiler chickens became the most efficient meat-producing animals because of their fast growth, supported by a virtually unlimited voluntary feed intake. These characteristics cause many problems in the management of broiler breeder hens because of the negative correlation between muscle growth and reproduction effectiveness. 2. This problem, namely the fast muscle growth versus reproduction health paradox, induces a second paradox, acceptable reproduction and health versus hunger stress and impaired welfare, because broiler breeder hens require dedicated programmes of feed restriction (1) to maximise egg and chick production and (2) to avoid metabolic disorders and mortality in broiler breeders. 3. Given that poultry selection is a global large-scale business and chickens are a prolific species, improvement in profit can only be obtained by selecting on feed conversion and/or for higher breast meat percentage, which will intensify the broiler-breeder paradox. 4. New feeding strategies are being studied, but it is questionable if the paradox can be solved by management tools alone. Because breeding and selection are long-term processes, involving animals, farmers, consumers, industry, environment etc., a more sustainable breeding goal needs to be determined by a multidisciplinary approach and an open debate between several actors in the discussion. 5. Using dwarf broiler breeder hens could be one alternative, because dwarf hens combine relatively good reproductive fitness with ad libitum feeding. Another possibility is to accept lower broiler productivity by assigning economic values to welfare and including integrity traits in an extended breeding goal.