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Ratites, game birds and minor poultry species

By Charles Deeming


There is considerable emphasis on understanding the breeding biology of domestic fowl, turkeys and duck but not of the other commercially significant species, such as ratites, gamebirds, guinea fowl and pigeons. In general, our understanding of breeding in these species is poor relative to that of commercial poultry. The only exception is the ostrich, which has been the subject of numerous studies of breeding behaviour, fertility and incubation, both in the wild and in captivity. Other ratite species have received less attention. Despite the economic importance of gamebirds in Europe and North America, especially pheasant and partridge, studies on reproduction in these species are mainly limited to a few investigations into factors affecting fertility. Improving our understanding of guinea fowl breeding would greatly assist in maximizing production in its native Africa. Of the species described in this chapter, the pigeon is of note because its pattern of reproduction is reliant on long-term pairing of birds and their role in the rearing of the altricial offspring. The paucity of information made it difficult to derive general trends between species in their reproductive biology. However, it was clear that to maximize productivity many of these species of birds needed to be kept as pairs or at least in small groups. This contrasts with industrial poultry production, where group sizes are typically in the thousands. Another aspect of the breeding biology of these minor species is a general lack of breeding technology, e.g. artificial insemination, in egg production. There is considerable scope for further research into these species, which will yield information of both scientific and commercial interest

Topics: C140 Developmental/Reproductive Biology, C100 Biology
Publisher: CAB International
Year: 2009
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