Comparison of hatching egg characteristics, embryo development, yolk absorption, hatch window, and hatchability of Pekin Duck eggs of different weights

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Abstract

This study was carried out to determine the hatching egg characteristics, embryo development and yolk absorption during incubation, hatch window, and hatchability of Pekin duck eggs of different weights. A total of 960 hatching eggs was obtained from a breeder flock 35 to 36 wk of age. The eggs were classed into 3 weight categories: “light” (L; <75 g), “medium” (M; 76 to 82 g), and “heavy” (H; >83 g). The albumen weight was the highest in the heavy eggs, whereas the yolk weight was higher in the medium and heavy eggs. Egg breaking strength was the highest with a value of 2.5 kg/cm2 in light eggs, whereas the thinnest eggshell (0.3862 mm) was observed in heavy eggs. pH of albumen and yolk was similar and ranged from 8.8 to 8.9 and 5.9 to 6.0, respectively. On d 14 of incubation, yolk sac weight was found higher in the medium and heavy eggs. Additionally, the dry matter of the embryo and yolk sac differed among the egg weight groups during the incubation period. Interestingly, on d 25 of incubation, the embryo weight was higher in the light and heavy eggs (35.2 and 36.3 g, respectively) than in the medium eggs (29.8 g). These findings showed that embryo growth was affected by yolk absorption and dry matter accumulation. The hatchability of total and fertile eggs was lower for the heavy eggs than the light and medium eggs. The chick weight was 42.8, 48.4, and 54.9 g in light, medium, and heavy eggs, respectively. A percentage of 34.2, 36, and 31.6% of chicks from light, medium, and heavy eggs, hatched between 637 and 648 h, 39.6, 36.2, and 32.9% between 649 and 660 h, 26.2, 27.8, and 35.5% between 661 and 672 h of incubation, respectively. In conclusion, hatching egg quality, embryo development and yolk absorption during incubation, hatch window, and hatchability were affected by egg weight in Pekin ducks.

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