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Mating Behaviour, Fertility of Broiler Breeder Males Reared on Shortened Growth Cycles

22 July 2012, at 12:00am

Males that were older at the time of light stimulation had higher fertility than younger birds, according to new research from the University of Arkansas, and those that were exposed to light at earlier ages exhibited less overall mating activity.

One of the more difficult tasks when raising broiler breeder cockerels is controlling bodyweight gain in the rearing house without inflicting excessive stress, according to Dr Jon Moyle of the University of Arkansas and co-authors there and at the Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit of USDA-ARS, also at the University of Arkansas. They explain that this is a period of time for the young male when many portions of the reproductive system are in the formative stages and, if neglected, can have lifelong effects on their reproductive performance.

The objective of their study, published recently in Journal of Applied Poultry Research, was to raise males under feed management programmes that produced the recommended target bodyweight of 3.06kg for males at 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 weeks of age.

Males were placed at three-week intervals so that all males with the same bodyweight were light-stimulated at the same time but at different ages. All males were reared in the same light-controlled house at the University of Arkansas Research Farm.

Males were light stimulated and testes development, complete semen analysis, fertility and mating activity and behaviour were recorded for each group of males.

At the time of light stimulation, the younger males were less successful at completing matings, crowed less often, and showed less wing flapping and neck flaring than older males, based on the results for mating behaviour.

Males that were older at the time of light stimulation had higher fertility than younger males. Males that were 24 weeks old at the time of light stimulation had an overall fertility of 94.5 per cent, compared with 91.8, 91.6, 79.2 and 87.3 per cent, respectively, for the other ages.

In this study, the Fayetteville-based researchers found that males that were exposed to light at earlier ages exhibited less overall mating activity than older males.


Moyle J.R., D.E. Yoho, S.M. Whipple, A.M. Donoghue and R.K. Bramwell. 2012. Mating behavior and fertility of broiler breeder males reared on shortened growth cycles. J. Appl. Poult. Res., 21(2):272-278. doi: 10.3382/japr.2011-00364

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July 2012
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