Natural antibody (NAb) levels and survival rates were evaluated in 4 breeds of laying hens in Ethiopia: indigenous, improved indigenous, exotic layer, and crossbred. Titers of NAb isotypes IgG and IgM binding keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) in serum were measured at 20, 26, 35, and 45 wk age. Repeated-measure ANOVA showed that IgG and IgM levels vary with time within each breed (P <0.05). Indigenous chickens had significantly (P <0.05) higher NAb levels at all ages. The Cox proportional hazard analysis showed increased hazard with increased levels of NAbs in the exotic layers (P <0.05). However, the reduced hazards with increased levels of NAbs were not significant in the improved indigenous and crossbred chickens. Indigenous chickens showed increased hazard with increasing levels of NAb (P > 0.05). We concluded that not only the NAb levels but also the effect of Nabs on survival vary between indigenous and improved breeds. The results indicate that NAb levels are associated with survival in elite (improved) breeds, but are associated with increased hazard in indigenous chickens.
- laying hens