Yolk sac fatty acid composition, yolk absorption, embryo development, and chick quality during incubation in eggs from young and old broiler breeders

Poult Sci. 2014 Aug;93(8):2069-77. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03850. Epub 2014 Jun 15.


The objective of the present study was to examine the changes in yolk and yolk sac fatty acid composition and also to investigate egg content, yolk absorption, embryo development during incubation, and chick quality at hatch in eggs from 36- and 52-wk-old broiler breeders. The fatty acid profiles of the yolk, the yolk sac of embryos, and the residual yolk sac of chicks were analyzed before incubation, on d 18, and at hatch, respectively. Yolk sac weight, and embryo weight and length were measured on d 18, and chick weight and length were measured at hatch. Egg weight, yolk and albumen weight, yolk percentage, and yolk:albumen ratio increased as breeder age increased, but the albumen percentage decreased. Yolk absorption in absolute value (g) was higher in embryos from the old flock on d 18 and at hatch. Relative yolk absorption was similar between age groups on d 18, whereas it was higher in the young flock at hatch. Breeder age affected the yolk sac weight and was higher in the old flock during incubation. Embryo or chick weight and length, and yolk-free BW were affected by breeder age during incubation. These parameters were higher in the old flock with a difference of 3.7 g, 0.8 cm, and 2.6 g, respectively, on d 18 and 7.4 g, 1.4 cm, and 6.3 g, respectively, at hatch compared with the young flock. The effect of breeder age on fatty acid composition differed significantly by sampling day. Palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids were major fatty acids in the fresh yolk, ranging from 13.02 to 29.24%. These were followed by palmitoleic and arachidonic acids ranging from 1.24 to 7.04%, with the remaining fatty acids below 1%. Higher concentrations of myristic, palmitoleic, and oleic acids and lower concentrations of heptadeconoic, stearic, linoleic, and arachidonic acids were found in the residual yolk sac of the young flock than the old flock. The results showed preferentially selective absorption of some fatty acids by the embryo during incubation.

Keywords: breeder age; chick quality; embryonic development; yolk absorption; yolk sac fatty acid composition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo / growth & development
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Chromatography, Gas / veterinary
  • Egg Yolk / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Reproduction
  • Yolk Sac / chemistry*
  • Yolk Sac / embryology*


  • Fatty Acids