Poultry production is one of the major area of animal production with significant contribution to human food production. Poultry products provide protein of high biological value (Eshiette and Okere, 1990). Nigeria is endowed with many poultry species which are indigenous to the country. These have lived, adapted and reproduced for several years in the Nigeria environment. Momoh, (2005) estimated poultry population in Nigeria to be about 33 million. With the ever growing population and improvement in the living standard of Nigerians, the demand for egg and other poultry products will continue to grow.
            The Nigerian local chicken exhibits of diversity in morphological characteristic and consist of various unimproved sub-population of heterogeneous characteristics, not yet classified into breeds and varieties since they do not share common ancestry, breed through to type and have no clear plumage colours (Obioha, 1992, Ibe,2001). They generally have small body and egg size compare to their exotic counterpart (Nwosu and Omeje, 1985). They are hardy and generally reported to adapt favourably to the local environment (Ikeobi and Godwin, 1990). The chickens are flighty in nature, resistant to some diseases and parasites and lay eggs within relatively thick eggshell (peters et al., 2007). The village poultry production is mostly based on the scavenging indigenous domestic chicken (Gallus domesticus). The genetically unimproved local chicken remains predominant in African villages despite the introduction of exotic and cross-react type. This is due to the fact that local farmers have not been able to afford the high input requirement of the introduced breed (Kaiser, 1990).
            Despite their non-resistant and mongrel nature, there exist strains or inbred lines (ibe,1998) within the native chicken populations which have definite genetic constitutions. Based on this, the Nigerian local chickens can be group into various genotype or genetic groups having identifiable genes of direct and in directed effect on production and quantitative trait loci (Fayeye et al., 2006). These genes, according to Ibe and Nwosu (1999) called major genes; advantageous gene complexes or plumage reducing genes which include the naked-nek (Na) and Frizzle (F). These genes are associated with heat tolerance and possess productive adaptability (Horst, 1988). A study by Ojo (2003) reveals that the indigenous poultry industry falls short of its aim of self-sufficiency in animal protein consumption in the country that is put at 5gm/caput per day which is far cry from FA0 recommended level of 35gm/caput. These statistics indicates that there exists an inalienable inequality between the Nigerian human population which grows astronomically and that of poultry.
            The native chicken constitutes about 50 percent of the 120 million poultry birds found in Nigeria (FOS, 1996). Aryee and Kutame, (1991) reported that the indigenous village chicken is the most prominent class of livestock in the country and constitutes about 60 – 80% of the total poultry population but their productivity level are low because of poor nutrition and low genetic potential. In an effort to address the problem of low productivity in local chickens, high-yield exotic breeds have been introduced through cockerel exchange programme by the government (Hagan and Adjei). This intervention is bed willed with many challenges; prominent among them is the birds’ inability to adapt to the hot and humid environment, resulting in reduced feed intake and retarded growth (Cowan and Michie, 1988).
            Badubi et al. (boo6) observed that the diversity inform include plumage type, plumage colour, leg feathering  and comb type. This diversity, which constitutes genetic resource, informs the reason for incorporating the local chicken into breeding programmes aimed at producing an indigenous meat breed adapted to the tropical environment (Oke, 2011).
            EAOSTAT (2001) put the population of chicken species in Nigeria as 37 million in 1961 and 126 million in 2000. The indigenous chicken are essential part of the Nigeria societies. They are reported to be domesticated as early as 2500BC (Farel, 1995). Peter (2000) reported that indigenous chicken are characterized by hardiness, and disease tolerance. He also stressed that their survival depends on natural selection which makes them genetically envied for genetic exploration and Hybrid vigour exploitation.
            Earlier attempts to improve the performance of local chickens started in the late 30’s (Otchere et al; 1990). In his reports there was introduction of the village poultry improvement scheme which was based on cockerel exchange. These attempts have been made in the past to improve the productivity of the indigenous chicken because of its potentials a source of meat to reduce significantly the gap of animal protein deficiency in the society. One of the ways to enhance the commercial values of the local chicken is to commercial values of the local chicken is to improve their fertility, hatchability and their general breeding performance. This may be achieved through the utilization of advantageous gene in breeding strategies Horst (1998) identified nine major genes of indigenous chicken that can be used in genetic improvement programme. Among these include the Naked Neck (NN), Frizzle gene (FZ) and normal Feather (MF), in our local chicken populations. Machebe et al. (2005) reported that birds which possesses these genes need to be explored for development of a viable indigenous poultry industry.
            Fertility is an important concept to consider in hatchability of eggs. Unfertile eggs cannot hatch. That is why it is imperative to include fertility as part of the work. Fertility refers to the fertile status of group of eggs laid by hens and by commercial flocks it is expressed as the percentage of the total eggs laid (Wishart et al 2000). Fertility is also expressed as the percentage of egg fertilized and it is judged by candling or microscopy (Wilson, 1993). The ultimate test of fertility can only be done by depositing semen in the oviduct of the hens and the evaluation is only possible when sufficient spermatozoa number are deposited with optimum frequency (Sexton and random, 1988).
            Fertility in local chicken is the ability of the birds to reproduce. Peter et al (2005) described fertility as the fertile state of group of eggs laid over a period of time by a single hen or by commercial flocks and is usually expressed as percentage of total eggs laid as reported also by Wishart et al., (2000) Peters et a., l(2005) also reported that egg fertility has be affected by age of breeder, exposure to high temperature, nutrients, management, mating ratio and semen quality.
            Hatchability on the other hand refers to the proportion of fertile eggs that continue development and produced viable chicken (Peter et al; 2005). Hatchability also refers to the percentage of hatched eggs reported either as percentage of fertile eggs hatched; or percentage of chicks hatched from all eggs in the incubator. According to Allese et al. (1993), Zygote development and thus hatchability are traits of the  embryo influenced by material effects. In most previous studies, they were considered solely as female reproductive traits (Sewalem et al., 1998).
            Fertility and hatchability are the most important determinant for producing more chicks from a given number of breeding stocks within a stipulated period (Islam et al., 2002) Oluyemi (1990) and peters (2000) revealed that poor performance of local chicken is a function of their exposure to extremes fluctuating and adverse effect of weather under scavenging or extensive system.

The Following are the Objective of the Study
i.          To evaluate the fertility and hatchability of the three indigenous local chicks, Frizzle feather gene, Naked-neck gene and Normal feather or smooth feather gene.
ii.         To compare the hatchability of the three indigenous local chickens.
iii.       To make recommendations using the result of the research.

            The tropical environment is characterized by stress factors, notable among is the high temperature (Ibe 1993). This can lead to heat stress and thus, negatively affect the performance of the animals. Attempts to significantly reduce heat stress problem in poultry through management practices or dietary adjustments have not been successful (Ige et al.,2012). Eberhart and Washburn (1993) reported a genetic basis to heat resistance and suggested the need to breed birds with more natural resistant to heat.
            Certain major genes have been found potentially useful to the tropical environment. Among these major genes are the feather distribution. (Naked-neck (NN). And frizzle feather (FF) genes, another gene of consideration is the normal feather gene. Both genes have been associated with increased resistant (Horst, 1988). Genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity have been observed to exist in the domestic chickens (Oke 2011). This diversity which constitutes genetic resources informs the reason for incorporating the local chicken into breeding programmes aimed at producing an indigenous meat breed adopted to the tropical environment.
            Consequent upon their thermoregulatory functions, the plumage reducing genes have been found relevant in the tropics. The relevance’s feather of naked-neck and frizzle chickens. For instance, the naked-neck genes have been found to cause 30-40% reduction in feather coverage (Njenga, 2005). The advantages of these genes over their normally feathered counterpart in hot humid environment is in terms of feed intake, growth rate. (Cachaner, 1994) and weight gain (Yalcin et al., 1997). Several other researchers have reported on the effects of the frizzle and naked-neck on growth rate, egg number, fertility and hatchability in the Nigeria local chicken (Ikeobi  et al., 1996; Peters et al., 2007; and Mathur 2003). Egg quality in chicken is influenced by several factors, which may be genetic or environmental (Peters et al, 2007). This in turn affects egg hatchability.
            There is huge amount of financial resources that has been channeled towards the importation of exotic stock, when it would have been used to develop the potentiality of our indigenous local breeds of birds. Hence this has led to paucity of data on fertility and hatchability of our local indigenous Chicken. Fertility and hatchability are important parameters that determine the profitability of the poultry enterprises. This makes it imperative to explore the potential in the locally indigenous Nigeria chicken and compare the fertility and hatchability of different strains of the indigenous chicken so as to measure the progress that have been made so far the current study will undertaken to investigate or evaluate the hatching performance of Frizzle feathered gene, Naked Neck gene and Normal feathered gene of the indigenous Nigeria local chicken.

            The research will be conducted at the poultry breeding unit of the department of animal Science of the Ebonyi State University Abakaliki Nigeria. The area lies in the south-east of Nigeria and has a prevailing tropical climate with a mean annual rainfall of about 1500 mm the mean ambient temperature ranges from 210C during the coldest period (December-January) and 300C during the hot period (February-April).

The birds to be used for the research will be obtained form the villages within Ikwo Local government area of Ebonyi State where the birds can be easily located in a more abundant numbers. Three different genetic groups will be selected from the indigenous local chicken. The genetic groups to be selected are Naked-neck (NN) strain, Frizzle feathered strain (FZ) and Normal feathered strain (NM). A total of twenty four hens and six cocks will divided according to their strains into two replicates groups for the purpose of this study.

            The breeding birds will be divided into three treatments base don their strains, the naked-neck, the frizzle feathered and the normal feathered. Each strain will make-up to eight hens and two cocks which will be subdivided or replicated into two groups of four hens and one cock.  All the birds will bee housed in a deep litter system and will be fed with commercial breeder mash for the hen, why the cock will be fed on grower mash. Both feed will be served ad-libitum till the end of the experiment.
            The house will contain half wall with open area covered with wire-gauze for adequate ventilation. The house will be kept clean as well as the surrounding environment to avoid poor health management.

Data will be collected as follows:
1.         Feed intake: The quantity of feed to be served will be weighed and served to the birds between 6:30-7.30am daily. Left over feed will be collected for group every morning, weighed and recorded. From this the daily feed intake of each replicate group will be determined by difference between the quantity of feed served and the leftover.
ii.         Weigh gain: This will be obtained by weighing the birds individually at the beginning of the experiment and weekly, thereafter. This will be done in the morning when the crops are virtually empty    before feeding the birds. At  the end of the experiment, the total body weight gain will be calculated per group by subtracting the initial body weight form the final body weight. The daily body weight gain will be determined by dividing the body weight gain with number of days the experiment will last.
iii.       Feed Efficiency: This will be determined by dividing the daily weight gain by the feed intake i.e
Feed efficiency         =          Daily weight gain
                                                Daily feed intake
iv.        Hen day Production: Total number of eggs laid by each replicate group will be collected twice each day, at 1200 hours and 1800 hours.
This will be used to calculate the hen day egg production using the formular: = Hen day production =             Total egg/hen/day  x  100
Number of birds       1

The following are the external quality trait will be determined:
1.         Egg weight: Individual egg weight will be measured to the nearest 0.10gm using a sensitive scale
ii.         Egg length: This will be determined by measuring the distance between the broad end and the narrow end of the egg using a veneer caliper.
iii.       Egg width: This will be measured as the diameter of the egg at the widest cross-sectional region using a vernier caliper.
iv.        Egg shape index: The egg shape index will be measured as the ratio of the length an width of the egg.
v.         Shell weight: Egg shell which will be air dried over night will be weighed and the relative weight calculated by relating the shell weight to the weight of the egg.
vi.        Shell thickness: This will be determined by measuring the individual dry eggshells at three location of the shell (narrow, middle and broad portions) to the nearest 0.01mm using a micrometer screw gauge.
-           Egg number: This is the total number of eggs laid by each group replicate during the period of experiment.
-           Percentage fertility: This is take as the percentage of eggs that were fertile out of all the fertile eggs set. Percentage fertility
=          Number of fertile egg          x          100
            Number of eggs set                1
-           Percentage hatchability: This is taken as the percentage of egg that will be hatched out of all the fertile eggs set.
            Percentage Hatchability      =          Number of chicks hatched  x 100
                                                                        Number of fertile eggs               1
-           Percentage dead in shell: This is taken as the percentage of dead in shell out of all the fertile eggs set. Percentage dead in

shell    =          Number of dead in shell  x  100
                                    Number of fertile eggs                     1
-           Percentage dead in germ: This is taken as the percentage of dead in germ out of all the fertile eggs set. Percentage dead in germ =
Number of dead in germ  x  100
            Number of fertile eggs         1
-           Percentage weak in shell: This is taken as the percentage of weak in shall out of all fertile eggs set.
Percentage weak in shell  =                        Number of weak in shell  x 100
                                                            Number of fertile eggs         1

Data obtained will be subjected to analysis of variance according to the method of Snedecor and Cochran (1978), while the difference between means of the treatment will be separated for significance using Duncan’s new multiple Range Test as outlined by Obi (2002).
Linear Additive Model for Completely Randomized
Design is as follows
Xy                   =          m + Ti +Sij
Where xij       =          Any observation
                m      =          Population mean
            Ti        =          Treatment effect
            Sij       =          experimental error
            i           =          Number of treatment
            j           =          Number of replicates
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