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Turkish Study Finds Duck Production Affected by Breeder Age

27 February 2014
Poultry Science journal

TURKEY - New research reveals that the age of Pekin duck breeders affects some egg characteristics, relative yolk sac weight, yolk mineral content, embryo growth during incubation and duckling weight.

The effects of breeder age on mineral contents and weight of yolk sac, embryo development and hatchability in Pekin ducks were investigated by researchers including first-named author, E.E. Onbasilar of Ankara University.

In a paper in Poultry Science co-authored by researchers from the universities of Kiikkale, Afyon Kocatepe and Selçuk, they report that they found breeder age to be important for some egg characteristics, relative yolk sac weight, some contents of minerals in the yolk, embryonic growth during incubation and duckling weight.

A total of 495 freshly laid eggs were obtained from the same flock of Pekin ducks, aged 28, 34 and 40 weeks, and were reared in accordance with the management guide of the duck breeders (Star 53-Grimaud Freres).

At each breeder age, egg measurements were made on a random sub-sample of unincubated eggs. Embryo and yolk sac measurements were made on embryonic day (E) 12, E16, E20, and E25.

On day 28 of incubation, the healthy ducklings were removed and sex of chicks was determined. All chicks were weighed and hatching results were determined.

Egg weight and yolk percentages increased; however, albumen percentages, shell thickness and yolk index decreased as the flock aged.

Shell percentages, shell breaking strength, albumen index and Haugh units were unaffected by breeder age.

Also, breeder age affected the magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc levels in the yolk, except for sodium level on day of setting, and breeder age affected the mineral consumed by embryo during incubation.

However, on E25, the levels of examined minerals, except for phosphors level in the yolk sac, were not statistically different in duck breeder age groups.

Relative yolk sac and embryo weights of eggs obtained from different breeder ages varied from E16 to E25; however, embryo length was different in breeder age groups from E12 to E20.

Hatching weight was affected by breeder age and sex but hatching results were not different the breeder age groups.


Onbasilar E.E., E. Erdem, Ö. Hacan and S. Yalçin. 2014.  Effects of breeder age on mineral contents and weight of yolk sac, embryo development, and hatchability in Pekin ducks. Poultry Science. 93(2):473-478. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03355

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