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Domest Anim Endocrinol. 2010 May;38(4):235-43. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2009.11.002. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

The role of retinal and extra-retinal photostimulation in reproductive activity in broiler breeder hens.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.


Photostimulation of retinal photoreceptors, which are sensitive to green light, appears to inhibit reproductive activity in birds, whereas photostimulation of extra-retinal photoreceptors, which are sensitive to red light, accelerates it. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of either retinal or extra-retinal photostimulation on reproductive activities of broiler breeder hens. At 23 wk of age, Cobb hens (N=135) were divided into 9 rooms with individual cages (n=15). At 24 wk of age, 3 rooms were photostimulated (14L:10D) with white light (Control, n=45). Six rooms had 2 parallel lighting systems, red (660 nm) and green (560 nm), which were both on during 6 out of 14 h of the light period. Then, in 3 of these rooms, the green light was turned off and hens were exposed to a total of 14 h of red light (Red, n=45), and in the other 3, the red light was turned off and green lighting continued for a total of 14 h (Green, n=45). The Green group had reduced egg production; reduced plasma concentrations of ovarian steroids; reduced luteinizing hormone (LH)-beta, vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), and prolactin mRNA expression; and greater retinal green opsin mRNA expression (P < or = 0.05). The Red group had greater egg production; greater gonadotropin-releasing hormone-I (GnRH-I) and red opsin gene expression in the hypothalamus; and lesser green opsin gene expression in the retina (P < or = 0.05). We suggest that selective photostimulation of extra-retinal photostimulation as opposed to retinal photostimulation is a key factor in the determination of successful reproduction of broiler breeder hens.

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