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Poult Sci. 2009 Oct;88(10):2033-41. doi: 10.3382/ps.2009-00128.

Transport stress in broilers: I. Blood metabolism, glycolytic potential, and meat quality.

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Feed Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences & Key Laboratory of Feed Biotechnology, Ministry of Agriculture of China, Beijing 100081, China.

Erratum in

  • Poult Sci. 2009 Nov;88(11):2468.


The effect of transport stress on blood metabolism, glycolytic potential, and meat quality in broilers was investigated. Arbor Acres chicks (n = 360, 1 d old, males) were randomly allotted to 1 of 5 treatments: unstressed control, 45-min (short-term) transport with 45-min (short-term) recovery, 45-min transport with 3-h (long-term) recovery; 3 h (long-term) transport with 45-min recovery, and 3-h transport with 3-h recovery. Each treatment consisted of 6 replicates with 12 birds each. On d 46, all birds (except the control group) were transported according to a designed protocol. Transport time affected plasma glucose level (P<0.05) and glycogen level (P=0.06) in breast muscle as well as the area (P<0.01) and density (P<0.01) of IIa fibers. Glucose concentration increased slightly during the first 45 min of transport and then decreased dramatically in the long-term transported broilers (P<0.05). Long-term transport decreased the concentration of breast glycogen (P=0.06) and affected the size of IIa fibers in tibialis anterior by decreasing the area (P<0.01) with an increase in density (P<0.01). However, a long-term recovery after transport contributed to the homeostasis of blood corticosterone (CORT, P=0.05) and low levels of glycogen (P<0.05), lactate (P<0.01), and glycolytic potential (P<0.01) in thigh muscles. Interactions existed between transport and recovery time on area (P<0.05) and density (P<0.01) of IIa fibers. Furthermore, plasma nonesterified fatty acids increased significantly in the 3-h transport with 3-h recovery group (P<0.05) in comparison with the control. These results suggested that transport induced the release of plasma CORT and glycopenia, which affected the contractive status of muscle fibers by changing their area and density, and enhanced glycolysis and even lipolysis. A long-term recovery after transport was beneficial in lowering plasma CORT levels and reducing muscle glycolysis, which might improve broiler meat quality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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