Tanzania Veterinary Journal

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Egg traits, fertility, hatchability and chick survivability of Rhode Island Red, local and crossbred chickens

J. J. Malago, M. A. Baitilwake



The local chicken has profound potential for upgrading through cross breeding with improved commercial birds to increase meat and egg production. This study aimed at evaluating egg traits, hatchability, fertility, chick hatch weight, and chick survivability of commercial Rhode Island Red (RIR), local, and crossbred chickens. A total of 6752 local chicken eggs were collected to obtain breeding stock and to study egg traits. RIR breeding stock was obtained from raising 250 (50 males, 200 females) while crossbred chickens were obtained by crossing RIR layer cocks to local hens and vice versa. A total of 1382, 1523, and 1476 local, RIR, and crossbred chicken eggs respectively were assessed for egg weight, length, breadth, and volume as well as chick hatch weight. Fertility and hatchability were assessed in 3675 local chicken eggs and 3350 eggs from RIR and crossbred chicken each. There was no significant difference (p < 0.05) in egg traits and chick hatch weight between RIR and crossbred chickens but these birds had significantly higher egg weight, egg length, egg breadth, egg volume, and chick hatch weight than local chickens. There were significant (p < 0.0001) positive relationships between egg volume and egg weight, chick hatch weight and egg weight, and chick hatch weight and egg volume for all chickens. Fertility was 92.0±4.14, 91.1±4.42, and 94.5±2.21 for local, RIR, and crossbred chickens respectively. Hatchability varied significantly at p<0.05 (80.6±1.43 in crossbred, 64.0±2.16 in RIR, and 52.2±2.54 in local chickens). Survivability of local chicks was superior by 50% over RIR and crossbred chicks. It is concluded that cross breeding local chickens to RIR produces a superior breed to local ecotype in terms of egg traits, hatchability and survivability. Such superiority can be exploited to upgrade the genetic potential of local ecotype and thus improve poultry production.
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