Adult Northern bobwhite were used to test the hypothesis that dietary methionine levels recommended by the NRC for breeding quail are excessive for wild bobwhite. We tested the hypothesis by comparing immunocompetence, reproductive performance, and chick viability of Northern bobwhite hens fed diets containing low (0.31%), moderate (0.39%), or high (0.47%) concentrations of methionine. Chick viability was determined by assessing immunocompetence, including evaluating the ability of hens to passively transfer immunity to their chicks. Hens were fed the experimental diets for 6 wk on an ad libitum basis. After 6 wk, methionine treatment had no measurable effect (P ≥ 0.20) on hen phytohemagglutinin wing web indices, organ weights, or serum anti-Pasteurella multocida titer indices. Mean egg weight, percentage egg production, total cumulative egg production, yolk weight, yolk volume, and percentage fertile and percentage hatch of fertile eggs did not differ (P ≥ 0.12) among diet treatments. Amount of albumen in eggs produced by hens fed the high methionine diet averaged 0.27 g more (P = 0.003) than eggs of hens fed the low methionine diet. Anti-P. multocida titer of yolks from eggs in Week 6 were not different (P = 0.36) between birds fed the high and the low methionine diets. The mortality rate of chicks after challenge with 23 cfu of P. multocida was not different (P ≥ 0.05) among diets. Chicks hatched from eggs laid by vaccinated hens during Weeks 2 and 3, however, had lower (P < 0.05) mortality than chicks of unvaccinated hens. It appears a dietary methionine concentration of 0.3% may be sufficient for wild Northern bobwhite to produce viable chicks.
- Colinus virginianus
- Northern bobwhite