Hatchability and fertility of indigenous chicken and duck eggs, and some causes of chick and duckling mortality in Kenya

  • P G Mbuthia
  • L W Njagi
  • P N Nyaga
  • L C Bebora
  • G M Mugera
  • U Minga
  • J E Olsen


Flocks under study are located in the suburbs of Nairobi province and Machakos district. They belonged to smallholder farmers. Twenty seven clutches of eggs given to indigenous chickens to seat on, and 10 clutches of eggs given to ducks to seat on were investigated for six months. The number of eggs in each clutch ranged from 6 to 19 with an average of12 eggs. Duck eggs had a hatchability of 82.3% and fertility of 89.5% while chicken eggs had a hatchability of 66.2% and fertility of 82.8%. Staphylococcus spp, Streptococcus spp., Enterococcus spp., Escherichia coli, Proteus spp., and other aerobic bacteria were commonly isolated from un-hatched eggs, dead embryos, dead chicks, and ducklings. These were comparable with bacterial isolates recovered from cloacal and pharyngeo-tracheal swabs taken from adult birds from these farms and cultured on blood and McConkey Agar base. The main causes of chick and duckling mortalities were yolk sac infections, colibacillosis, and nutritional deficiencies. Other causes of mortality encountered were ectoparasites {fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) and lice (Menopon gallinae)}; and predators like kites, hawks, mongoose, dogs, wild and domestic cats.

Kenya Veterinarian Vol. 31 (1) 2007: pp. 6-13

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eISSN: 0256-5161