Fertility, hatchability and growth performance of native and crossbred chickens in a tropical climate
Fertility and hatchability serve as measures of genetic and reproductive fitness of individual bird. These two along with growth performance are important yardsticks in evaluating the economic efficiency of parent stocks. There is no previous study on the evaluation of Goliath and Sussex chickens for hatchability, growth and crossbreeding potentials in Nigeria. The present study was conducted to evaluate fertility, hatchability and early growth performance of Yoruba ecotype, Marshall, Sussex, Goliath and their crossbred chickens in Nigeria. A total of 895 eggs were used to evaluate fertility and hatchability of eggs. 583 chicks were used to evaluate early growth performance in the 10 genetic groups. Mean %Fertility of egg, %Hatchability of egg set and %Hatchability of fertile eggs were 74.44%, 61.50% and 82.09%, respectively. Crossbreeding (reciprocal) between Yoruba ecotype and either Marshall or Goliath chicken gave better fertility and hatchability than the cross between Yoruba ecotype and Sussex chicken. Reciprocal effects on fertility and hatchability and liveability generally favour the use of Yoruba ecotype cocks on exotic hens. Marshall chicks were significantly higher (p<0.05) in weekly body weights than all the other nine genotypes from the 5th to the 8th week of age. Crossbred chicks produced by Marshall cocks and Yoruba ecotype hens were significantly higher (p<0.05) in weekly body weights than other crossbred chicks from the 5th to the 8th week of age. Male chicks were significantly higher (p<0.05) in weekly body weights than female chicks. Interaction between genotypes and sex was significant (p<0.05) on the weekly body weights. It was concluded that the highest genetic gain in body weight and Feed efficiency through crossbreeding would be achieved by crossing Marshall cocks with local Yoruba ecotype hens. However, higher fertility and hatchability of eggs and survivability of chicks may be achieved by mating Yoruba ecotype cocks with any of the female exotic hens.
Key words: Crossbreeding, Feed efficiency, Hatchability, Reciprocal effects, Yoruba ecotype