Comparative Productive Performance among three Plumage Varieties of Noiler Hens
Paul Oludare Adetunji* and Safiriyu Idowu Ola
Noiler is an improved indigenous dual-purpose breed of chicken developed in Nigeria to meet national demands for food supply. The objective of this study is to compare the productive performance among three prominent plumage varieties of Noiler hens. For this purpose, a total of 90 pullets with three plumage colours (brown, black and barred) were divided into 3 replicates with 10 birds per replicate in each of the variety. Data were collected on the pubertal parameters (age at first egg and crouching behaviour) from 16-22 weeks of age; egg production performance indices (egg weight, hen day egg production-HDEP, feed efficiency-FE/dozen eggs and persistency of lay) from 19-52 weeks of age. Additionally, sexual ornaments’ morphometry (Comb Length-CL, Comb Height-CH, Wattle Length-WL, Wattle Height-WH and Inter Pubic Distance-IPD) was determined from 16-24 weeks of age. Data on puberty and egg production performance indices were subjected to Analysis of Covariance with body weight at puberty as a covariate, while morphometry measurements were subjected to Spearman correlation analysis. Plumage colour difference had a significant (P<0.05) effect on the onset of puberty as lower age at first egg were recorded in brown and black pullets compared to the barred pullets. Black hens had the best performance in most of the egg production indices with the values of 61.57±0.56g, 68.38±2.49%, 157±3.55 eggs, 2.39±0.05, NGN266.56±8.31 and 12 weeks (at 85.37%) for egg weight at 52nd week of age, HDEP, number of eggs per period (224 days), FE/dozen eggs, cost/dozen eggs and persistency of lay, respectively. The CL and WL positively and significantly (P<0.05) correlated (r = 0.22 to 0.57) with egg production performance indices, except egg weight but negatively related (r = -0.11 to -0.36) to age at first egg in all three varieties, while IPD was positively correlated with egg weight in brown (r = 0.43) and black (r = 0.53) hens. Collectively, these results demonstrate that black and brown hens could be preferred over barred hens for egg production. Sexual ornament morphometry such as CL, WL and IPD may be used to predict onset of puberty and some egg production performance traits in the tested plumage varieties of Noiler hens.