Dead-in-shell positions of near-term ostrich embryos

Z. Brand, S.W.P. Cloete, I.A. Malecki & C.R. Brown
2 017

The patterns of embryonic development in ostriches, especially in the last stage of hatching, are still not well understood. This study examined between 3468 and 3484 dead-in-shell (DIS) eggs with chicks that died between day 35 and day 42 of artificial incubation. Most DIS chicks were positioned correctly with their heads towards the air cell (52.6%). DIS chicks that positioned their heads near the equator of the egg amounted to 46.5%, while a small percentage (0.9%) were positioned with their upper body towards the bottom of the egg. More DIS chicks tended to pip internally near the equator of the egg (37.6%) than DIS chicks that pipped internally through the membranes into the air cell (34.4%). Most DIS chicks had their heads turned in the correct position from left to right (54.4%), though their beaks were mostly positioned towards the air cell (52.9%). The highest percentage of DIS chicks had their feet in the upwards position (52.4%), while 46% had their feet across or below the head. The wings of all DIS chicks were positioned next to the body. Results from the study showed that most of the DIS chicks were roughly in the correct position, but were still unable to hatch. This warrants future research to investigate the reasons that prevent correctly positioned chicks from hatching.

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