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Poult Sci. 2001 Jan;80(1):29-36.

Early age thermal conditioning and a dual feeding program for male broilers challenged by heat stress.

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Universidad Central De Venezuela Facultad de Agronomia, Maracay.


The effects of early age thermal conditioning (TC) and dual feeding on responses of male broilers to a thermal challenge at 34 d of age are reported. Three hundred chicks were randomly divided into two equal groups. One group was exposed to thermal conditioning (38 C, 42% relative humidity for 24 h) at the age of 5 d, and the other group was not exposed. From 11 to 41 d of age, temperature was diurnally cyclic: 26 C (1600 to 0900 h) and 30 C (0900 to 1600 h). From Day 19, a factorial (2 x 2, TC x diet) experiment was conducted using eight pens of six broilers per treatment. Diets were control diet and dual feeding of a high protein fraction (1600 to 0900 h) and an energy-rich fraction (0900 to 1600 h). Growth and feed efficiency were slightly enhanced (+4%) by thermal conditioning and slightly reduced (-4%) by dual feeding. Mortality during thermal challenge was reduced by both factors. [In not conditioned chicks (N), 31 fed a control grower diet (NG) and 12 on a dual feeding program (NDF) died; in thermal conditioned chicks (T), 18 fed a control grower diet (TG) and 11 on a dual feeding program (TDF) died.] Before the thermal challenge period, body temperature (Tb) was consistently reduced in T. During the thermal challenge period, Tb was reduced by thermal conditioning and dual feeding. Measured at the age of 32 d, Tb gave an estimation of the ability of the chickens to cope with heat stress 2 d later. Pectoral mass was increased in TG, whereas the liver and the gizzard were significantly heavier in TDF and NDF. These results suggest that thermal conditioning at 5 d of age induces a consistent metabolic change in broiler males. The dual feeding program might have induced transitory effects on heat production during the heat stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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