The growth and survival of purebred SAB and ZB ostrich chicks, as well as chicks derived from the reciprocal cross between these lines was investigated. The survival and day-old, 3 month, 5 month, 9 month and slaughter weights of the chicks were recorded and analysed by Chi-square and least squares procedures. Linear contrasts were computed to get an indication of heterosis. The survival of SAB and ZB * SAB chicks was improved relative to that of the ZB and SAB * ZB chicks. SAB chicks displayed the lowest day-old and slaughter weight and ZB chicks the highest. The crosses performed intermediate between the pure lines with a heterosis of 6.5% occurring at 9 months. Crossbreeding has the potential to improve the survival of ZB birds and to improve the slaughter weight of SAB birds. Further research is required to validate these findings and to provide a framework for exploiting heterosis.

F. Essa, S. WP Cloete

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume , , 10.03, 2006
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