Effects of egg weight on hatchability, chick hatch-weight and subsequent productivity of indigenous Venda chickens in Polokwane, South Africa
A study was conducted to determine the effect of egg weight on hatchability, chick hatch-weight, mortality and subsequent productivity of indigenous Venda chickens. Three hundred and sixty indigenous Venda chicken eggs were collected for a period of a week and selection was done based on the weight of the eggs. A complete randomized design was used, with four treatment weights, each with 90 eggs. The four treatment weights were as follows: below 49 g, between 50 and 59 g, between 60 and 69 g, and above 70 g. Egg weight was positively and strongly correlated with egg hatchability (r2 = 0.727) and chick hatch-weight (r2 = 0.953). Heavier-sized eggs hatched chicks had higher mortality rates. Growth rate and live weight of the chickens were optimized at different egg weights of 56 (r2 = 0.657) and 60 (r2 = 0.870) g, respectively, for chickens aged 1 to 7 weeks, and egg weights of 61 g (r2 = 0.514) and 60 g (r2 = 0.948), respectively, for chickens aged 8 to 13 weeks. It is concluded that indigenous Venda chicken egg weight affects hatchability, hatch-weight, mortality and subsequent productivity of the chickens. It is concluded that production variables were optimized at different egg weights. This means that the selection of eggs for incubation will depend on the parameter in question.
Keywords: Venda chickens, egg weight for optimal productivity, growth, mortality