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Free Content Reproductive maturity of turkey hens: egg composition, embryonic growth and hatchling transition

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Selection for body weight in commercial turkey strains has resulted in faster growing turkeys with improved feed efficiencies. These genetic gains, however, have come largely at the expense of reproductive fitness. In particular, considerable variability exists in early egg production. This variation greatly impacts egg composition, which in turn can affect embryonic growth and post-hatching transitions from an embryonic lipid-based metabolism to a glucose-based metabolism. Notably, embryos from young hens develop more slowly than embryos from older hens during the last week of incubation. Further studies have shown that these developmental differences are in part due to a proportional increase in yolk mass in eggs from older hens; which allows for a greater mass transfer of yolk lipid to the embryo during the final week of incubation. Hypothetically, developmental differences during incubation may contribute to problems that occur during the acclimation period after hatching, especially if hatchlings come from very young hens.

Keywords: egg; embryo; hen; poult; reproduction; turkey

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1151

Publication date: February 28, 2002

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