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Open AccessArticle

Determination of the Genetic Component of Fur-Chewing in Chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) and Its Economic Impact

1
Departamento de Medicina Preventiva Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, La Pintana, Santiago 8820000, Chile
2
Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, La Pintana, Santiago 8820000, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2018, 8(9), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8090144
Received: 14 July 2018 / Revised: 14 August 2018 / Accepted: 18 August 2018 / Published: 21 August 2018
Many chinchillas kept in captivity develop fur-chewing. This behavior does not only affect fur price, but most importantly it can be the result of an animal welfare problem. The causes of this behavior are not well understood and a genetic component could exist. This is why the aim of this study was to determine the genetic component and the effect of this behavior on fur price. The data from a commercial fur-farm was used, it included information on 10,196 chinchillas recorded between 1990 and 2011. The heritability of the behavior and its effect on fur price were determined. The results show a significant genetic variation in fur-chewing with an estimated heritability of 0.16. At the same time, the behavior had an important negative effect on fur price. The selection and management practices used in fur-farming should be improved in order to decrease the incidence of this behavior.
Fur-chewing is a common behavioral disorder developed by chinchillas kept in confinement that can indicate a past or present welfare problem. It also has a negative productive impact associated. The aim of this study was to determine the genetic component of fur-chewing, and the effect of this undesired behavior on fur price in a commercial fur-farming system of chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera). The data for the analysis was derived from a commercial population of 10,196 chinchillas, recorded between the years 1990 and 2011. For determining differences in fur price according to presence of fur-chewing behavior, analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used, considering 3007 animals. For estimation of variance components of fur-chewing a sire-dam threshold (probit) mixed model was used, using data of 9, 033 individuals, and then heritability on the underlying liability scale was calculated. The analysis revealed a significant negative impact on fur price from fur-chewing chinchillas (p-value < 0.05). In addition, the study showed that fur-chewing presents significant genetic variation, with an estimated heritability of 0.16. The presentation of fur-chewing should be taken into account when selecting broodstock in these systems, in order to reduce the number of affected individuals. View Full-Text
Keywords: chinchilla; welfare; fur-chewing; abnormal behavior; fur price; heritability chinchilla; welfare; fur-chewing; abnormal behavior; fur price; heritability
MDPI and ACS Style

González, C.; Yáñez, J.M.; Tadich, T. Determination of the Genetic Component of Fur-Chewing in Chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) and Its Economic Impact. Animals 2018, 8, 144.

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