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OGAH.D M ./PhD/1966/06

Major Supervisor: Professor Dr. N. I. Dim

Minor Supervisor 1: Dr M . O Mommoh




Poultry production is one area of animal production with significant contribution to human food

production. Consumers have high preference for poultry products. Beside preference; poultry

products provide protein of high biological value (Epstein, 1990).

Nigeria is endowed with many poultry species which are local to the country .These have lived,

adapted and produced for several years in Nigeria environment(Momoh, 2005) .RIM (1992)

estimated poultry population to be about 33 million. With the ever growing population and

concomitant improvement in the living standard of Nigerians ,the demand for egg and other poultry

products will continue to grow thus overstretching the supply from chicken .Therefore,there is need

to explore other poultry species such as the duck to supplement the eggs and other poultry

products obtainable from the chickens. The duck is widely distributed and is prominent in the list of

available poultry species in Nigeria (RIM, 1992)

They are essential part of many human societies around the world. They are reported to be

domesticated as early as 2500 BC (Farrel,1995).Today the domestic duck have come to serve a

variety of roles in modern society as source of food supply (meat and egg ),and in some other

societies as a species that is selectively bred for shows. They have several advantages over

other poultry species .These advantages include their disease tolerance , hardiness , excellent

foraging ability and easy to herd, particularly in wet lands since they tend to flock together

The population of ducks in Nigeria was put at approximately eleven million(11,000,000) and is

reported to be distributed all over the agro ecological zones of the country (FLDPcs,1992).Domestic

ducks were ranked third among various poultry species in Nigeria (Hassan and Mohammed,

2003). In spite of this positive score, very little attention has been paid to the genetic improvement

of the duck that will lead to increased productivity. There are little or no available information on

the phenotypic and genetic characteristics of Nigerian indigenous Muscovy duck.

In Nigeria, different agro ecological zones exist; and for all species of livestock variations are

reported to exist in both phenotypic and genetic characteristics as a result of adaptations to these

different ecological zones. Numerous comparative studies have provided insight into the ecological

mechanism underlying evolutionary diversification across habitat gradient .This is evident in the

reports of Akinokun (1971), Oluyemi et al (1982),Adedokun and Sonaiya(2001)for poultry;

Adebambo et al. (1998) for cattle,Epstain(1990) and Wilson(1991) for sheep and goat. These

diversities constitute valuable animal genetic resource for use in animal breeding programme for

improvement of the productivity of the animal species, particularly domestic poultry and also in

designing proper conservation strategy

In genetic studies various type of genetic makers are known, they include morphological,

chromosomal, biochemical and molecular makers. Morphological (e.g. pigmentation and other

features) and chromosomal (e.g. structural or numerical variations) makers usually show low level

of polymorphism or differences. Quite a number of techniques are in use in molecular maker

analysis; the most common and cost effective is the Random amplified polymorphic DNA

technique. This technique has been used extensively in molecular characterisation of livestock

population in detecting polymorphism between population and establishing genetic relationship

among them (Ali et al., 2003).

Ecotypes are developed through selection and adaptation and varied from one agro ecological zone

to another due to varied climatic characteristic such as humidity , temperature and rainfall

,though in some cases some ecotypes may be similar in all traits (Adedokun and Sonaiya ,2001)
Some research findings on ducks Ksiazkiewic (1995) and Farrell(1995) reported that they are very

susceptible to effective inbreeding and genetic drift if kept in a small population for few generation

.This genetic flexibility will suggest that variation can easily be found in different population at

different location .These variation could either be morphological or genetic or both.

.The genetic improvement of local ducks in Nigeria will first require investigation into their

productivity genetic characteristics and geographical diversity.

1.1 Research Objectives

The overall objectives of this study will be to evaluate the phenotypic and genetic characteristics, as

well as the potential of the local Muscovy ducks to contribute to egg and meat production in

Nigeria. This information will provide a frame work for the development of breeding programmes

for conservation and sustainable use of the Muscovy duck genetic resources in Nigeria.

The specific objectives include

1. To evaluate the morphological/phenotypic characteristics of local Muscovy ducks from two

agro ecological zones of Nigeria (tropical rainforest and guinea savannah )

2. To estimate morphological distance between the two populations

3. To evaluate performance of the ducks from these zones in basic production traits, of growth

(0-to 35 weeks), and egg production.

4. To estimate genetic parameters of growth, egg production and fertility traits of the ducks

from the two ecotypes.

5 To estimate genetic relatedness among the two ecotypes using random molecular techniques

2.0 Materials and Methods

Two approaches will be adopted for the research, field measurement or field data collection and on-

station experiment;

2.1.0 Field data collection; Characterization study

A field measurement to characterise indigenous Muscovy ducks will be carried out in two agro

ecological zones.

2.1.2 Study site- The two agro ecological zones will include Rainforest and Guinea savannah


The rainforest agro ecological zone lies at the southern part of Nigeria and data will be collected

from southern part of Cross River State, Akwa Ibom and Abia states.

Guinea savannah agro ecological zone – The data will be generated from rural areas of Benue,

Nasarawa and Niger states.

2.1.3 Sampling method-participatory rural/visual appraisal and physical measurement will be

adopted. The method will involve taking measurement of body morphology and external egg

traits from the two ecotypes

2.1.4 Traits to be measured –

1 Morphological data

Body weight

Body length

Body width Head length

Beak length Neck length

Beak width

Beak height
Wing length

Shank length

Bird height

2 Egg Characteristics

Egg weight

Egg length

Egg width

Shape index

2.2.0 .Phenotypic evaluation of production traits-On station experiment.

On station experiment to evaluate the phenotypic, production and genetic characteristics of the

indigenous muscovy ducks from the two agro ecological zones , Rainforest and Guinea

savannah will be carried out in the Poultry Unit of College of Agriculture ,Lafia , Nasarawa

state of Nigeria.

2.2 .1 Screening of nondescript population of the Muscovy ducks from each of the agro

ecological zones to form foundation or base population.

Ten adult drakes and seventy ducks (female) will be randomly gathered from rural areas of

Southern Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Abia states to make up the nondescript populations from

the Rainforest, while similar adult male and females will also be gathered from rural areas of

Benue, Nasarawa and Niger states to also form the nondescript population of the birds from

Guinea savannah zone. Only matured adult that have laid and can mount and are physically

Sound will be collected.

2.2.2 Generation of experimental birds from the base population (random bred population)

The non descript population will be assigned into ten replicate pen per ecotype, in a mating ratio
of 1:7 (male /female) randomly and will be fed layers marsh .They will be allowed to lay eggs

and hatched naturally by brooding mothers in batches

The ducklings will be brooded in separate pens for eight weeks.

At ten weeks of age the breeding groups will be selected to form each ecotype, ten males and

seventy females as optimum recommendation by Nickolova (2004) for Muscovy duck.

The ducks will be mated at 28 weeks of age.

2,3.0 Genetic evaluation of the Muscovy ducks (straight bred mating)

Seventy females and ten males foundation stocks of each ecotype obtain from a random bred

Population will be place in a mating ratio of 1:7 (i.e. one male to7female).This is to generate

straight bred from first laying ducks of each ecotype.

The distribution and mating of each ecotype will be at random.

2.3.1 Traits to be measured

The following traits will be measured for the phenotypic and genetic evaluations.

Growth trait

- Body weight –each genetic group will be weighed at 5 weeks interval from hatch to

35weeks of age

- Daily weight gain

- Body weights gain at 5 weeks interval

- Specific growth rate

- Mortality from 0-35 weeks of age.

Egg production traits

- Age at first egg

- Body weight at first egg.

- Percent egg production

- Weight of first egg

- Egg weight at 30, 35,40,45,50, weeks

- Egg mass

- Number of egg laid at 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, week.

- clutch size

- Laying intensity

Fertility and hatchability traits

- Hatchability of fertile egg (%)

-Average duckling weight

2.4.0 Molecular characterization

Protocol/ procedure

-Blood sample of about 500ul will be collected from the brachial vein of 25 individual birds of

either sex from each of the two ecotypes.

-Genomic DNA will be extracted by the use of phenol chloroform extraction method using the

protocol adopted by Hesfer (1997).

-The pellet of DNA will be washed and dried. The concentration of the DNA and its purity

will be determined by spectrophotometer based on the absorbance at 260 and 280nm


The purified DNA from individual as well as pooled DNA from each ecotype will be used for

further analysis.


3.1 Phenotypic evaluation

For morphological traits, growth, egg production, fertility,, and short and annual term egg

Production, factorial analysis of variance in a complete randomised design using appropriate

factors such as ecotype/genotype, sex, hatch, and interaction will be used .

A generalised linear model (GLM) procedure will be adopted using Statistical

Analysis System (SAS) (1998)

Using the following model

Yijk l=µ+Ei+Sj+Mjk+ (ES) ij +eijkl


Yijk=individual animal

µ =overall population mean

Ei=the fixed effect of ecotypes/genotype (1,2 )

Sj=effect of sex (1,2)

Mjk=Random effect of sire within ecotype (k=1…7)

(ES) ij=Effect of Ecotype x Sex interaction

eijkl=Residual error assume NID(0,σ2)

3.2 Morphological distance

Morphological data will be use to estimate genetic distance between the ecotypes.

Nine zoometric traits will be used.

body weight

body length

body width

neck length

beak length

beak width
beak height

shank length

head length

Using the means procedures of the SAS (1990) package (Statistical Analysis System Institute

Inc 1990) the simple descriptive statistics of each numerical variable will be obtain step wise

discriminatory analysis will be perform to assess the discriminatory power of each variable

,genetic distance will be obtain using Mahalanobis D² statistics using the means of each

discriminant variables monitor.(Salako and Ngere,2001 )

D² =∑ ∑ Vij (xi-yi)(xj-yj)


D²=geometric distance between two population represented in an m-dimensional space

Vij=is the element of ith row and jth Column of the inverse matrix

- The morphological data will also be subjected to principal component analysis (PCA) for

multivariate analysis to reveal pattern within the data matrix.

3.3 Genetic and phenotypic parameter estimation

Growth, egg production, and fertility data of each ecological group will be

Subjected to genetic analysis using the mixed model least square and maximum likelihood

Package Harvey (1990) to estimate genetic and phenotypic correlation as well as heritability

Estimate of traits from sire variance components.

3.4 Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA-Polymerase Chain Reaction Analysis (RAPD-PCR)

RAPD –PCR will be carried out with the pooled and the individual genomic DNA samples

.Five random primers will be use and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).Each

sample will be use for electrophoresis.

RAPD pattern will be visualised on a Ultraviolet (UV) transilluminators and photograph.

Recording of data and statistical analysis

The RAPD bands will be score for their presence (1) or absence (0) .The index for similarity

between ecotypes and within ecotype will be calculated using the formular developed by

(Lynch, 1990) .

Bab= 2Nab/Na+Nb

Where Nab= number of fragment observed in individuals a and b

Na and Nb = total number of fragment scored in a and b

3.4,1 Genetic distance base on band sharing

The genetic distance between the populations will be calculated based on band sharing between

the pooled sample profiles. The genetic distance between ecotypes will be calculated as

developed by (Chatterjee et al 2007)

Dab=1/N.1- (Nab/Na+Nb-Nab)

Where Nab= number of common band between ecotypes

Na= number of common band in ecotype a

Nb=number of common band in ecotype b

N= number of primers

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Body measurements

Body length- measure between the first cervical vertebrae and the pygostye

Bird height – measure from the legs on the ground up to the back of the body.

Body width – distance between the right to the left flank of the body.

Beak length – measure as length of the upper beak rim

Beak width – at the widest part of the beak between the right and the left distance

Beak height - at highest part of the beak.

Shank length – from the knee or knuckle (hock joint)to the region of the tarsus

Wing length – measure as the distance from the caput humeri to the third carpal digit

Head length –as distance between the end of the beak and the end condylus occipitale

Neck length –measure between the first and the last cervical vertebrae

Head width – at the widest part of the head

Head height- at the highest part of the head.