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Impact of Egg Storage on Embryo Development

Posted on 20. March, 2014.

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Prolonged cool egg storage, a common commercial practice with turkey eggs in the USA, has a detrimental effect on hatchability and therefore, is of considerable concern to commercial turkey hatchery operators. In fact, a rule-of-thumb in the hatchery is that for every day after 10-days of storage, hatchability will decrease by 1%.

Studies aimed at defining the optimum conditions for cool egg storage that maximize hatchability have been conducted. Notwithstanding this, the national hatchability rate is not increasing and it has been suggested that hatchability is decreasing. It has been shown that temperature, in concert with humidity, duration of storage, and egg orientation play major roles in influencing embryo development during cool storage and incubation. The temperature at which embryo development is reversibly suppressed, referred to as physiological zero, has long been considered to be 20° to 21°C, although higher temperatures have also been suggested. Plausible explanations for this wide range of temperatures describing physiological zero include the following: the method of determining the actual stage of development of the embryo; a wide variation in the stage of development of the blastoderm in fresh oviposited eggs within the same genetic strain; and, differences in genetic strain.
In this work, we review some previously published and present new observations describing the impact of cool egg storage on the blastoderm. By employing new techniques and procedures, our observations have and will provide better insight into the adverse effects of long-term cool egg storage. More specifically, the turkey embryo staging procedure permitted the discrimination of extremely subtle developmental differences prior to gastrulation between turkey embryos. Furthermore, immunocytochemical and molecular probes provide the means to localise specific cellular and extracellular responses to the treatments. Work such as that presented herein will provide fundamental and applied information which may have a substantial impact on turkey egg handling and management procedures currently used, much of which is based on contradictory observations.


The full article is available to read, free of charge, in Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews, Volume 13, Number 3, August 2002 , pp. 125-131

Photograph courtesy of Serg64/