Japanese quail (Coturnix c. japonica) were fed 0, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 p.p.m. Hg as mercuric chloride (HgCl2) from the time of hatching up to the age of 1 year. None of the birds manifested any gross signs of mercury poisioning. Food consumption, growth rate, and weight maintenance were unaffected. Initial oviposition tended to occur at a younger age as dietary mercuric chloride increased, e.g., the median age at which egg laying began among hens fed 32 p.p.m. Hg was 6 days younger than for controls. The average rate of egg production was positively related to the concentration of mercuric chloride with the most pronounced differences between treatments occurring among young (less than 9-week-old) hens. Beyond 9 weeks of age production was more uniform among the treatments, but even after 1 year hens on 32 p.p.m. Hg were laying an average of 13.5% more eggs than controls. Rate of egg fertilization was generally depressed for all Hg-treatments above 4 p.p.m. Hatchability of fertilized eggs and eggshell thickness appeared unaffected by mercuric chloride.
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Sexual maturation and productivity of Japanese quail fed graded concentrations of mercuric chloride