Comb, cloaca and feet scores and testis morphometry in male broiler breeders at two different ages

ABSTRACT In broiler breeder roosters, the weight of the testes is positively associated with daily sperm production and fertility. In birds, the testes are located in the coelomic cavity, not being accessible to reproductive evaluation as mammalian testes. The reproductive evaluation of roosters is based on phenotypic traits. Any changes on testes will be reflected on fertility levels. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the potential of association of phenotypic traits as body weight (BW), comb scores (COS), cloaca scores (CLS) and feet scores (FS) with testicular morphometric parameters in adult Cobb® Mx roosters in two ages (25 and 45 weeks of age). The low BW roosters had lower testes weight (TW), smaller seminiferous tubule diameter (STD) and lower comb and cloaca scores than the medium and high BW roosters (P≤0.05). Heavy roosters had the highest COS and bigger seminiferous epithelium height (SEH). There was no statistical difference between the BW categories in FS and volumetric proportion of seminiferous tubule (ST) and interstitial tissue (IT). Considering the age effect, roosters with 45 weeks of age had lower TW and ST than 25-week roosters. Positive, moderate and significant correlation was found between testes weight and phenotypic characteristics as BW, COS and CLS in 45week roosters. A positive, moderate and significant correlation was found between body weight and histologic testicular characteristics as STD and SHE in both evaluated ages. In conclusion, there is a regression in the testes weight with age and it is more intense in Cobb® Mx roosters with lower BW. Furthermore, it is concluded that the BW positively influences the testes weight and histological quality of the testes. COS and CLS can be used with moderate potential prediction to identify roosters with low testes weight at 45 weeks of age.