Selection programmes are mainly concerned with increasing genetic gain. However, short-term progress should not be obtained at the expense of the within-population genetic variability. Different prediction models for the evolution within a small population of the genetic mean of a selected trait, its genetic variance and its inbreeding have been developed but have mainly been validated through Monte Carlo simulation studies. The purpose of this study was to compare theoretical predictions to experimental results. Two deterministic methods were considered, both grounded on a polygenic additive model. Differences between theoretical predictions and experimental results arise from differences between the true and the assumed genetic model, and from mathematical simplifications applied in the prediction methods. Two sets of experimental lines of chickens were used in this study: the Dutch lines undergoing true truncation mass selection, the other lines (French) undergoing mass selection with a restriction on the representation of the different families. This study confirmed, on an experimental basis, that modelling is an efficient approach to make useful predictions of the evolution of selected populations although the basic assumptions considered in the models (polygenic additive model, normality of the distribution, base population at the equilibrium, etc.) are not met in reality. The two deterministic methods compared yielded results that were close to those observed in real data, especially when the selection scheme followed the rules of strict mass selection: for instance, both predictions overestimated the genetic gain in the French experiment, whereas both predictions were close to the observed values in the Dutch experiment.
Keywords: selection experiments, poultry, inbreeding, genetic response, prediction methods