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Recent advances in the assessment of eggshell quality and their future application

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2007

M.M. Bain
Division of Cell Sciences, Institute of Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow Veterinary School, Glasgow, G61 1QH, UK E-mail:
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Any approach which aims to improve the quality and safety of eggs, is of limited value unless it can relate to the incidence of breakages in the field, and can be applied either directly to breeding programmes or used as online tools for quality assurance. Online systems require the method of assessment to be non-destructive. This is probably not so important for breeding companies who tend to gauge the usefulness of an eggshell quality measurement by its ease of measurement, its heritability and, its genetic correlation with other phenotypic traits. Historically, qualitative measures such as shell breaking or puncture strength, non-destructive deformation and specific gravity have been widely adopted as tools in selection programmes. The dynamic stiffness is a novel eggshell quality measurement, which could be utilised by poultry breeders as it has a moderate heritability and high genetic and phenotypic correlation with other shell quality traits including eggshell breaking strength. This non-destructive measurement could also be applied on-line to monitor shell quality. An alternative approach is to use genetic markers as tools to aid conventional breeding programmes where an important eggshell quality trait is practically too difficult or expensive to fully exploit. Marker-assisted selection for the genes coding for organic matrix proteins may provide a way of incorporating other beneficial egg quality traits into selection programmes in the future.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2005

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