Effects of Albumen Removal on Size and Composition of Chicken (Gallus domesticus) Hatchlings
Jones, Marjorie E. (Margie)
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Composition of an avian egg correlates closely with the degree of maturity and size of a newly hatched neonate bird. Variation in the size of eggs and their components influences hatchling size and perhaps hatchling success though size-related limiting factors. However, determination of how variation in egg composition, specifically the amount of albumen, affects the size of bird hatchlings, has yet to be fully evaluated. A portion (10%) of the albumen was removed from fertile chicken eggs to determine the impact of variation in albumen mass on hatchling size, composition, and metabolic rate. Results showed that wet body mass, some internal organ masses, and total water content of the hatchling are reduced by removing albumen. Metabolic rate remained unaffected by both a change in albumen content and hatchling mass, suggesting that no correlation exists between these parameters. Results described here indicate that water contained in albumen is distributed throughout a bird by the time it hatches. Furthermore, these results lead to the suggestion that naturally occurring intraspecific variation in albumen (and water) content among avian eggs is the primary factor affecting hatchling size and water content.