Confinement lowers fertility rate of helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) eggs
Guinea fowl is a common game bird in Africa and there have been efforts to domesticate it for use as a source of human food. An important obstacle in successful domestication of guinea fowl is their low fertility rate.We studied the effects of semi-confinement on the fertility rates of helmeted guinea fowl by comparing egg fertility, hatch rate and keet survival rates in a wild (WL) and a semi-confined (SC) group. We undertook the study in Eastern Kenya for a period of 16 months that represented three breeding cycles. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in egg fertility rates between egg laying cycles in the SC group. However, the egg fertility rate of the WL group was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than that of the SC group. There were no significant differences in the hatch rate of eggs (P > 0.05) or the keet survival rates between the WL and SC groups. These results clearly show that low egg fertility rate is a key limiting factor in the reproductive success of helmeted guinea fowl kept in semi-confined spaces
Key words: egg fertility, hatch rate, helmeted guinea fowl, keet survival, Numida meleagris, semi-confinement.