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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 48(10)

Genetic relationships between water loss and shell deaths in ostrich eggs, assessed as traits of the female

Z. Brand A B F, S. W. P. Cloete A C, I. A. Malecki D, C. R. Brown E

A Department of Animal Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa.
B Institute for Animal Production, Oudtshoorn, PO Box 351, Oudtshoorn 6620, South Africa.
C Institute for Animal Production, Elsenburg, Private Bag X1, Elsenburg 7607, South Africa.
D School of Animal Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
E Institute of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester WR2 6AJ, United Kingdom.
F Corresponding author. Email: zanellb@elsenburg.com
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The ostrich industry suffers from a high rate of embryonic mortality during artificial incubation of eggs. Data from 34 285 eggs were used to derive 969 female-year records for evaporative water loss (WL), treated as a trait of the female. Heritability was significant for WL at a level of 0.40–0.41 (both after 21 and 35 days of incubation). WL at 21 and 35 days was negatively correlated on the genetic level with chick weight at hatching (–0.84 and –0.81, respectively). Shell deaths did not exhibit high levels of genetic variation (0.06), but were affected by the permanent environment of the female (0.33). Shell deaths were correlated with WL on a genetic level (–0.34 to –0.41), but the estimated genetic correlations were associated with high standard errors and are, therefore, not very robust. Further research is needed to obtain more accurate genetic relationships between traits influencing incubation.

Keywords: Struthio camelus.

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