BACKGROUND: The fertility of a chicken's egg is a trait which depends on both the hen that lays the egg and on her mate. It is also known that fertility of an individual changes over the laying period.<br /><br />METHODS: Longitudinal models including both random genetic and permanent environmental effects of both the female and her male mate were used to model the proportion of fertile eggs in a pedigree broiler population over the ages 29-54 weeks.<br /><br />RESULTS: Both the male and the female contribute to variation in fertility. Estimates of heritability of weekly records were typically 7% for female and 10% for male contributions to fertility. Repeatability estimates ranged from 24 to 33%, respectively. The estimated genetic variance remained almost constant for both sexes over the laying period and the genetic correlations between different ages were close to 1.0. The permanent environment components increased substantially towards the end of the analyzed period, and correlations between permanent environment effects at different ages declined with increasing age difference The heritability of mean fertility over the whole laying period was estimated at 13% for females and 17% for males. A small positive correlation between genetic effects for male and female fertility was found.<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Opportunities to improve fertility in broiler stocks by selection on both sexes exist and should have an impact throughout the laying period.
Wolc, A., White, I. M., Olori, V. E., & Hill, W. G. (2009). Inheritance of fertility in broiler chickens. Genetics Selection Evolution, 41(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1297-9686-41-47