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Dwarfism in chickens is an inherited condition found in chickens consisting of a significant delayed growth, resulting in adult individuals with a distinctive small size in comparison with normal specimens of the same breed or population. The affected birds show no signs of dwarfism in the first weeks of age. Poultry breeders begin to distinguish gradually dwarfs from normal birds by their shortest shanks and smallest body size. Dwarfism in chickens has been found to be controlled by several simple genetic factors. Some types are autosomic while others are sex-linked , but when poultry breeders make reference to 'dwarf chickens' they usually refer implicitly to sex-linked recessive dwarfism due to the recessive gene dw, located on the Z chromosome. As sex-linked dwarf broiler breeder hens can bring about normal sized broiler chickens, sex-linked recessive dwarfism found application in poultry industry since the last decades of the 20th century.
Although dwarfism is attributed to a genetic disorder; individuals with dwarfism are most often born into families where both parents are average height. A person with dwarfism is of short stature, meaning they are less than 4'10" in height. Dwarfism is most often caused by a condition called skeletal dysplasia of which there are 3 types. Achondroplasia is responsible for disproportionately short limbs as it mainly affects the arms and legs; while Spondyloepiphyseal causes a short torso as well as short limbs.
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