Effects of breeder age, strain, and eggshell temperature on nutrient metabolism of broiler embryos
Breeder age and broiler strain influence the availability of nutrients and oxygen through yolk size and eggshell conductance, and the effects of these egg characteristics on nutrient metabolism might be influenced by eggshell temperature (EST). This study aims to determine effects of breeder age, strain, and EST on nutrient metabolism of embryos. A study was designed as a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement using four batches of in total 4,464 hatching eggs of 2 flock ages at 29 to 30 wk (young) and 54 to 55 wk (old) of Ross 308 and Cobb 500. EST of 37.8 (normal) or 38.9°C (high) was applied from incubation day 7 (E7) until hatching. Wet yolk weight was determined mainly by breeder age (P = 0.043). Energy content in yolk (P = 0.004) and albumen + yolk (P = 0.005) were higher in old flock eggs than in young flock eggs, but did not differ between broiler strains. Eggshell conductance was higher in Ross 308 eggs than in Cobb 500 eggs (P < 0.001). Old flock embryos used more energy (P = 0.046) and accumulated more energy into yolk free body mass (YFBM; P = 0.030) than young flock embryos, whereas heat production (HP), energy lost, and efficiency of converting energy used to YFBM (EYFB) did not differ. Ross 308 embryos used more energy (P = 0.006), had a higher energy lost (P = 0.010), and a higher HP between E15 to E18 (P < 0.05) than Cobb 500 embryos. Energy content in YFBM did not differ between strains and EYFB (P = 0.024) was lower in Ross 308 than in Cobb 500. High EST resulted in higher HP than low EST from E11 to E15 (P < 0.05), but not after E15. Amount of energy used (P = 0.006) and energy accumulated in the YFBM (P < 0.001) was lower for embryos incubated at an EST of 38.9 than that of 37.8°C, whereas EYFB did not differ. In conclusion, breeder age, broiler strain, and EST differentially influence embryonic metabolism and particularly the availability of oxygen could have contributed to these differences.