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Poult Sci. 2013 Feb;92(2):285-94. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02589.

Genetic variations alter production and behavioral responses following heat stress in 2 strains of laying hens.

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1
Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.

Abstract

Genetic differences alter the type and degree of hens' responses and their ability to adapt to a stressor. This study examined the effects of genotypic variations on the productivity and behavior of laying hens following heat stress (HS). Two strains of White Leghorn hens were used: DXL (Dekalb XL), a commercial strain individually selected for egg production and KGB (kind, gentle bird), a strain selected for high group productivity and survivability. Ninety hens (48 DXL and 42 KGB) at 28 wk of age were randomly assigned to either a hot (H: mean = 32.6°C) or control (C: mean = 24.3°C) treatment and housed in pairs by strain for 9 d. Egg production and quality, behavior, body and organ weights, and circulating hormone concentrations were measured. Heat-stressed hens had lower egg production [adjusted (adj) P < 0.001] than their respective controls. Among H-DXL hens, egg weight tended to be reduced at d 1 and was reduced at d 9 (adj P = 0.007), but was reduced only at d 9 among H-KGB hens (adj P = 0.007). Eggshell thickness was also reduced among H hens at d 9 (adj P = 0.007), especially among H-KGB hens (adj P = 0.01). Plasma triiodothyronine concentration was reduced among H-hens (adj P = 0.01), especially among H-DXL hens (adj P = 0.01). Neither temperature nor strain affected the plasma thyroxine and plasma and yolk corticosterone concentrations. Heat-stressed hens spent less time walking (adj P = 0.001) and more time drinking (adj P = 0.007) and resting (adj P = 0.001) than C-hens. The results indicate that although HS reduced production and caused behavioral changes among hens from both strains, the responses differed by genotype. The data provide evidence that genetic selection is a useful strategy for reducing HS response in laying hens. The results provide insights for conducting future studies to develop heat-resistant strains to improve hen well-being, especially under the current commercial conditions.

PMID:
23300291
DOI:
10.3382/ps.2012-02589
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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