Effect of short-term pre-hatch heat shock of incubating eggs on subsequent broiler performance

Author: E. Sengor, M. Yardimci, N. Okur and U. Can
Year: 2008
Issue: 1
Volume: 38
Page: 58 - 64

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of thermal conditioning of broiler chickens during embryonic development on subsequent performance under standard rearing conditions. During incubation eggs from 32-, 45- and 56-week old Ross 308 broiler parent stock were subjected to a 2 h heat shock of 39 °C on days 14 and 15 of incubation. Eggs in the control were incubated throughout incubation at 37 °C. Chicks were feather sexed and equal numbers of each sex were placed in each pen per treatment, and reared for 42 days. Live weight, mortality and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were used as measures of performance. The final (six-week) live weights of broilers from young, mid and older parents for the treatment and control groups were 2113 ± 13.8 vs. 2159 ± 20.0, 2084 ± 29.2 vs. 2139 ± 20.0 and 2096 ± 17.6 vs. 2131 ± 24.3 g, respectively. The six-week live weight of the heat-treated group (2098 ± 12.0 g) was significantly lower than that of the control (2143 ± 12.2 g). The 1-6 week mortality figure was significantly lower in the heat-treated group of chickens from the young (83) and mid parent (77) groups compared to their controls (130 and 119), respectively. However, in the treatment group the incidence of mortality in broilers from the older parent group was significantly higher (105) than that of the control (79). The overall mortality without considering the parent age group was significantly lower in the treatment group (265) than in the control group (328). Mean FCR (g feed/g gain) of the chickens of the three parent groups was 1.79 ± 0.02 vs. 1.75 ± 0.03, 1.85 ± 0.03 vs. 1.77 ± 0.02 and 1.80 ± 0.03 vs. 1.77 ± 0.03 for the treatment vs. control groups, respectively, but the difference was significant only in the mid age parent group. These results suggest that prenatal thermal conditioning is not detrimental to broiler growth under standard rearing conditions in the absence of thermal stress. However, survival rate was improved but live weight and FCR were in some cases significantly poorer.

Keywords: heat stress, incubation, Live weight, mortality, parent age
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