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South African Journal of Animal Science

Print version ISSN 0375-1589

Abstract

BRAND, Z.; CLOETE, S.W.P.; MALECKI, I.A.  and  BROWN, C.R.. Genetic parameters for ostrich incubation traits in South Africa. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2009, vol.39, n.4, pp. 253-259. ISSN 0375-1589.

Data obtained from a pair-mated ostrich flock located at Oudtshoorn, South Africa, were used to estimate genetic parameters for egg weight (EWT), weight of day-old chicks (CWT), water loss to 21 (WL21) and 35 (WL35) days of incubation, and pipping time (PT) for between 13 806 and 19 913 artificially incubated ostrich eggs during the 2003 - 2006 production years. Data were initially analysed as single traits using ASREML. Covariance components and ratios were subsequently derived from two-trait analyses. Single-trait estimates of heritability (h2) were 0.46 ± 0.08 for EWT, 0.34 ± 0.07 for CWT, 0.34 ± 0.07 for WL21, 0.27 ± 0.06 for WL35 and 0.16 ± 0.04 for pipping time. Estimates of maternal genetic effects (m2) were 0.23 ± 0.12 for EWT and 0.29 ± 0.10 for CWT. A maternal permanent environmental effect amounted to 0.25 ± 0.10 for EWT, 0.12 ± 0.09 for CWT, 0.25 ± 0.04 for WL21 and 0.30 ± 0.04 for WL35. Genetic correlations with EWT amounted to -0.21 ± 0.13 for WL21 and to -0.12 ± 0.14 for WL35. Corresponding correlations with CWT were -0.43 ± 0.07 and -0.54 ± 0.11. Parameters indicate that it should be possible to alter evaporative water loss of ostrich eggs by genetic selection. A feasible selection strategy, however, needs to be devised as it is challenging to effect genetic change in a trait with an intermediate optimum.

Keywords : Embryo; shell; albumen; water loss; egg membranes; air sac; development; regression.

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