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Storage Period Affects Weight Loss of Japanese Quail Eggs

ABSTRACT

Long storage periods may increase embryo mortality. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of storage period on the weight loss, eggshell surface temperature, hatchability, and embryonic mortality of Japanese quail eggs. Two hundred fertile eggs were collected from a flock of 30-week-old Japanese quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica). The eggs were collected for 10 consecutive days after lay, and immediately incubated. A completely randomized experimental design with 10 treatments, corresponding to the number of days eggs were stored between egg collection and setting, with 20 replicates each, was applied. Egg weight loss increased with storage period duration, starting on day 6 (2.1%, on average) and reached 3.26%, on average, in eggs stored for 10 days. The highest hatchability (p>0.05) was obtained in eggs stored for two days, which also lost the least weight (1.20%). Storage period did not influence eggshell surface temperature (p>0.05) during incubation, but higher temperatures (p<0.05) were measured on days 10 and 15 of incubation compared with day 5. Eggs stored for ten days presented the highest weight loss, and therefore, a storage period of up to five days is recommended to maintain the quality of incubated Japanese quail eggs. Furthermore, egg surface temperature increases during the second half of the incubation period as a result of increasing embryonic metabolic rate.

Keywords:
Embryo; hatchability; incubation; laying; temperature

INTRODUCTION

Egg storage is essential in modern poultry production to supply the constant market demands and hatchery production flow (Christensen, 2001Christensen VL, Wineland MJ, Fasenko GM, Donaldson WE. Egg storage effects on plasma glucose and supply and demand tissue glycogen concentrations of broiler embryos. Poultry Science 2001;80:1729-1735.). Egg storage is a routine step in commercial hatcheries. It aims at reducing the cost of egg transportation to the hatchery, obtaining a sufficient number of eggs to fully load the setters, and synchronizing hatching (Fasenko et al., 2001aFasenko GM, Robinson FE, Whelan AI, Kremeniuk KM, Walker JA. Prestorage incubation of long-term stored broiler breeder eggs.1. Effects on hatchability. Poultry Science 2001a;80:1406-1411.).

The success of incubation requires optimal management practices that take into account environmental conditions, biological factors (stress level, electrolyte balance, thermoregulation, and post-hatch livability), and physical factors (temperature, humidity, and egg turning) (Sarcinelli, 2012Sarcinelli MF. Efeitos da temperatura de incubação e da idade da matriz no desenvolvimento in ovo, qualidade, desempenho e produção de ovos da progênie de codornas japonesas [dissertation]. Jaboticabal (SP): Universidade Estadual Paulista; 2012.). Temperature and humidity are the main factors that affect embryo livability during incubation (Boleli, 2013Boleli IC. Estresse, mortalidade e malformações embrionárias. In: Macari M, Gonzáles E, Patrício IS, Nääs IA, Martins PC. Manejo da incubação. Campinas: Fundação APINCO de Ciência e Tecnologia Avícolas; 2013. p.177-193.).

The storage period can influence egg quality. Long storage periods may increase embryonic mortality by inducing cell death via necrosis and apoptosis, and delay embryonic growth recovery, even when optimal incubation conditions are provided, resulting in slow embryonic growth rates (Fasenko, 2007Fasenko GM. Egg storage and the embryo. Poultry Science 2007;86:1020-1024.). Embryonic mortality rates are highest during the first three days of incubation and pre-hatch phase, and are usually due to embryo malformation (Murakami & Ariki, 1998Murakami A, Ariki J. Produção de codornas japonesas. Jaboticabal: Funep; 1998. p.78.).

Fertile Japanese quail eggs producers often do not have adequate equipment and technology that allow minimal egg quality losses during storage (Pedroso et al., 2006Pedroso AA, Café MB, Leandro NSM, Stringhini H, Chaves LS. Desenvolvimento embrionário e eclodibilidade de ovos de codornas armazenados por diferentes períodos e incubados em umidades e temperaturas distintas. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia 2006;35(6):2344-2349.). Considering the high demand of eggs and the factors that directly influence incubation, the gradual effect of storage on egg quality should be taken into account.

Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of storage period on weight loss, eggshell surface temperature during incubation, hatchability, and embryonic mortality of eggs laid by 30-week-old Japanese quails.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The experiment was conducted in the experimental hatchery of the School of Agricultural Sciences, Federal University of Grande Dourados, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Two hundred fertile eggs were collected from a flock of 30-week-old Japanese quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica) for 10 consecutive days before incubation.

Immediately after collection, eggs were individually weighed, labeled, packed in cardboard boxes, and stored in a room at 23°C and 60% humidity. Egg weight loss during storage was determined as weight at the beginning of incubation minus weight at the time of collection. Eggs were individually placed in tulle bags and randomly distributed in a setter at 37.5°C average temperature and 65% relative humidity. The eggs were kept in a horizontal position and automatically turned at a 45° angle to either side every hour. On day 16 of incubation, the eggs were transferred to a hatcher at 37.5° and 60% humidity.

Egg surface temperature

Egg surface temperature in the setter was measured using infrared thermography (IR Text Software Testo 880 V1.4, 2009®) with ± 0.1°C accuracy and at 7.5 to 13 µm spectra on incubation days 5 10, and 15, recording three thermographic images per treatment. For image analyses, a point was marked on each egg, using 0.95 emissivity ratio. The software program used to translate the spectrum of color temperature was IRSoft.

Relative weight, hatchability, and embryonic mortality

The chicks were weighed at hatch. Hatchability was calculated as the number of hatched chicks relative to the number of fertile eggs (determined by embryo diagnosis) set. Unhatched eggs were submitted to embryo diagnosis and classified as infertile (INF), early mortality (0-7 days; EM), intermediate mortality (8-14 days; IM), and late mortality (15-21 days; LM).

Experimental design and statistical analyses

A completely randomized experimental design (CRED) with 10 treatments, corresponding to the number of days were stored between egg collection and setting (days of storage: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10), with 20 replicates each, was applied. Eggshell surface temperature was analyzed according to a CRED in 10 x 3 factorial arrangement (10 days of storage vs. 3 days of incubation). Data were submitted to analysis of variance, and in case of significance (p<0.05), means were compared by Tukey’s test using SAS statistical package (SAS, 2002). Hatchability and embryonic mortality data were submitted to the frequency test, and means were compared by the Chi-square test at 5% probability level.

RESULTS

Storage duration influenced egg weight loss (p<0.05; Table 1). Egg weight loss increased with storage period duration, starting on day 6 (2.1%, on average) and reaching 3.26%, on average, in eggs stored for 10 days. Hatchability rates ranged between 40-85%. The highest hatchability (p>0.05) was obtained in eggs stored for two days, which weight loss was low (1.20%) (Table 2). Although not statistically significant, it was observed that early embryonic mortality was higher (p>0.05) when eggs lost more weight during storage, particularly in eggs stored for eight days.

Table 1
Parameters of incubated quail eggs stored during 10 days.
Table 2
Embrionary hatching and mortality of quail fertile eggs during different periods of storage.

Egg surface temperature was not influenced (p>0.05) by storage period (Table 3). However, egg surface temperature was lower on day 5 of incubation (p<0.05) compared with days 10 and 15.

Table 3
Fertile quail egg mean surface temperature at the 5th, 10th, and 15th day of incubation.

DISCUSSION

The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of storage duration on egg weight loss, hatchability, embryo mortality, and surface temperature of Japanese quail eggs stored for 1-10 days at 23oC before incubation.

Egg weight loss increased up to 2.1% as storage period increased. Eggs lost, on average, 0.2% of their weight per day, and up to 0.5% when stored for 10 days. Pedroso et al. (2006Pedroso AA, Café MB, Leandro NSM, Stringhini H, Chaves LS. Desenvolvimento embrionário e eclodibilidade de ovos de codornas armazenados por diferentes períodos e incubados em umidades e temperaturas distintas. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia 2006;35(6):2344-2349.) also reported 0.2% average weight loss per day of storage at room temperature in Japanese quail eggs, and losses greater than 0.6% on 3 and 6 days of storage. Moura et al. (2008Moura AMA, Oliveira NTE, Thiebau TJTL, Melo TV. Efeito da temperatura de estocagem e do tipo de embalagem sobre a qualidade interna de ovos de codornas japonesas (Coturnix japonica) Ciência e Agrotecnologia 2008;32(2):578-583.) observed higher weight loss in Japanese quail eggs stored at room temperature compared with those stored under refrigeration, and increasing egg weight loss with storage period, which reached 2.67% in eggs stored for 10 days.

Egg weight loss is the result of the release of water caused by albumen breakdown, and its subsequent passage through the eggshell. Albumen quality is influenced by storage time and conditions, as well as breeder age (Brake et al., 1997Brake J, Walsh TJ, Benton Jr CE, Petitte JN, Meijerhof R, Pen Alva G. Egg handling and storage. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science 1997;76:144-151.; Tona et al., 2003Tona K, Bamelis F, Ketelaere B, Bruggeman V, Moraes VMB, Buyse J, Onagbesan O, Decuypere E. Effects of egg storage time on spread of hatch, chick quality, and chick juvenile growth. Poultry Science 2003;82:736-741.). High egg weight losses can cause dehydration and high early embryonic mortality, whereas insufficient losses result in late embryo mortality, because the embryos are not able to inflate their lungs immediately before hatch due to the presence of excessive water in the egg (Sarcinelli, 2012Sarcinelli MF. Efeitos da temperatura de incubação e da idade da matriz no desenvolvimento in ovo, qualidade, desempenho e produção de ovos da progênie de codornas japonesas [dissertation]. Jaboticabal (SP): Universidade Estadual Paulista; 2012.).

The higher egg weight loss from the fifth day of storage may have caused worse hatchability. Although the results were not significant, eggs stored for more than five days presented 55.49% hatchability, while for eggs stored for two days hatchability was 84.62% on average.

According to Brake et al. (1997Brake J, Walsh TJ, Benton Jr CE, Petitte JN, Meijerhof R, Pen Alva G. Egg handling and storage. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science 1997;76:144-151.), external factors that influence the successful hatching of fertile eggs also affect albumen characteristics. Eggs lose weight due to dehydration, which also affects albumen quality. Albumen quality losses are caused by egg pH reduction and high temperature and humidity fluctuations in the setter of the incubator, which, combined with the effects of storage duration, result in egg weight loss.

Fasenko et al. (2001aFasenko GM, Robinson FE, Whelan AI, Kremeniuk KM, Walker JA. Prestorage incubation of long-term stored broiler breeder eggs.1. Effects on hatchability. Poultry Science 2001a;80:1406-1411.) observed 87.5% and 70.5% hatchability in chicken eggs stored at 11.5°C for four and 14 days, respectively, and 70.42% and 65.6% hatchability in turkeys eggs stored at 17.4°C for the same periods (Fasenko et al., 2001b). Seker et al. (2005Seker I, Kul S, Bayraktar M. Effects of storage period and egg weight of Japanese quail eggs on hatching results (short communication). Archiv Für Tierzucht, Dummerstorf 2005;48:518-526.) stored Japanese quail eggs between 9 to 12 °C and 70-75% relative humidity for 15 days and obtained 90.00, 88.74, 67.96, 72.45, and 50.31% in eggs stored up to three days, 4-6 days, 7-9 days, 10-12 days, and 13-15 days, respectively. Moraes et al. (2009Moraes TGV, Romao JM, Cardoso TG. Parâmetros da incubação e componentes dos ovos de codornas japonesas para corte (Coturnix coturnix japonica) submetidos à estocagem em baixas temperaturas (7,5 ±1 ºC). Ciências Agrárias 2009;30(1):233-242.) determined 90% hatchability in meat-type Japanese quail eggs stored for four days and 75% in those stored for 14 days.

Eggshell surface temperature is used as an indicator of in-ovo metabolic heat production (Lourens et al., 2007Lourens A, Brand VH, Heetkamp MJW, Meijerhof R, Kemp B. Effects of eggshell temperature and oxygen concentration on embryo growth and metabolism during incubation. Poultry Science 2007;86:2194-2199.). According to Murakami & Araki (1998Murakami A, Ariki J. Produção de codornas japonesas. Jaboticabal: Funep; 1998. p.78.), Japanese quail eggs should be set at 37.5°C and 60% relative humidity. During the first ten days of incubation, corresponding to the first half of incubation, embryonic metabolic rate is low, and the egg needs to absorb heat from the setter environment, whereas during the fetal stage, metabolic heat production increases and consequently, eggshell surface temperature (French, 1997French NA. Modeling incubator temperature: The effects of incubator design, embryonic development, and egg size. Poultry Science 1997;76:24-133.).

In the present study, higher eggshell temperatures were recorded on days 10 and 15 of incubation, independently of the storage time, indicating that embryonic metabolic rate was not affected by storage period. These results are consistent with the reported by Sgavioli et al. (2015Sgavioli S, Matos Júnior JB, Borges LL, Praes MFFM, Morita VS, Zanirato GL, Garcia RG, Boleli IC. Effects of ascorbic acid injection in incubated eggs submitted to heat stress on incubation parameters and chick quality. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science 2015;17(2):181-190.), who observed higher eggshell surface temperature in the second half of the incubation period of broiler eggs submitted or not heat stress during incubation and injected or not with vitamin C.

Eggshell surface temperature measurements during incubation indicated an uneven distribution of temperature inside the setter, which was lower than that recommended. This suggests that the use of the thermographic camera to measure eggshell temperature may not have been efficient, because of the need to open the setter to make the measurements. Therefore, it is recommended to place thermocouples on the eggs and/or a fixed infrared thermometer in the setter.

CONCLUSIONS

Eggs stored for ten days presented the highest weight loss, and therefore, a storage period of up to five days is recommended to maintain the quality of incubated Japanese quail eggs. Furthermore, egg surface temperature increases during the second half of the incubation period as a result of increasing embryonic metabolic rate.

REFERENCES

  • Boleli IC. Estresse, mortalidade e malformações embrionárias. In: Macari M, Gonzáles E, Patrício IS, Nääs IA, Martins PC. Manejo da incubação. Campinas: Fundação APINCO de Ciência e Tecnologia Avícolas; 2013. p.177-193.
  • Brake J, Walsh TJ, Benton Jr CE, Petitte JN, Meijerhof R, Pen Alva G. Egg handling and storage. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science 1997;76:144-151.
  • Christensen VL, Wineland MJ, Fasenko GM, Donaldson WE. Egg storage effects on plasma glucose and supply and demand tissue glycogen concentrations of broiler embryos. Poultry Science 2001;80:1729-1735.
  • Fasenko GM, Robinson FE, Whelan AI, Kremeniuk KM, Walker JA. Prestorage incubation of long-term stored broiler breeder eggs.1. Effects on hatchability. Poultry Science 2001a;80:1406-1411.
  • Fasenko GM, Christensen VL, Wineland MJ, Petitte JN. Examining the effects of prestorage incubation on turkey breeder eggs on embryonic development and hatchability of eggs stored for four or fourteen days. Poultry Science 2001b;80:132-138.
  • Fasenko GM. Egg storage and the embryo. Poultry Science 2007;86:1020-1024.
  • French NA. Modeling incubator temperature: The effects of incubator design, embryonic development, and egg size. Poultry Science 1997;76:24-133.
  • Lourens A, Brand VH, Heetkamp MJW, Meijerhof R, Kemp B. Effects of eggshell temperature and oxygen concentration on embryo growth and metabolism during incubation. Poultry Science 2007;86:2194-2199.
  • Moraes TGV, Romao JM, Cardoso TG. Parâmetros da incubação e componentes dos ovos de codornas japonesas para corte (Coturnix coturnix japonica) submetidos à estocagem em baixas temperaturas (7,5 ±1 ºC). Ciências Agrárias 2009;30(1):233-242.
  • Moura AMA, Oliveira NTE, Thiebau TJTL, Melo TV. Efeito da temperatura de estocagem e do tipo de embalagem sobre a qualidade interna de ovos de codornas japonesas (Coturnix japonica) Ciência e Agrotecnologia 2008;32(2):578-583.
  • Murakami A, Ariki J. Produção de codornas japonesas. Jaboticabal: Funep; 1998. p.78.
  • Pedroso AA, Café MB, Leandro NSM, Stringhini H, Chaves LS. Desenvolvimento embrionário e eclodibilidade de ovos de codornas armazenados por diferentes períodos e incubados em umidades e temperaturas distintas. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia 2006;35(6):2344-2349.
  • Sarcinelli MF. Efeitos da temperatura de incubação e da idade da matriz no desenvolvimento in ovo, qualidade, desempenho e produção de ovos da progênie de codornas japonesas [dissertation]. Jaboticabal (SP): Universidade Estadual Paulista; 2012.
  • SAS Institute. SAS proprietary software release 9.2. Cary; 2012.
  • Seker I, Kul S, Bayraktar M. Effects of storage period and egg weight of Japanese quail eggs on hatching results (short communication). Archiv Für Tierzucht, Dummerstorf 2005;48:518-526.
  • Sgavioli S, Matos Júnior JB, Borges LL, Praes MFFM, Morita VS, Zanirato GL, Garcia RG, Boleli IC. Effects of ascorbic acid injection in incubated eggs submitted to heat stress on incubation parameters and chick quality. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science 2015;17(2):181-190.
  • Tona K, Bamelis F, Ketelaere B, Bruggeman V, Moraes VMB, Buyse J, Onagbesan O, Decuypere E. Effects of egg storage time on spread of hatch, chick quality, and chick juvenile growth. Poultry Science 2003;82:736-741.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Oct-Dec 2016

History

  • Received
    Nov 2015
  • Accepted
    Feb 2016
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