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Poult Sci. 1982 Apr;61(4):790-5.

Physiological changes in caged layers during a forced molt. 4. Leucocytes and packed cell volume.


Packed cell volume and circulating leucocyte numbers in force-molted, Single Comb White Leghorn (SCWL) hens were examined. Two groups of SCWL hens, reared under commercial conditions, were subjected to force molting (FM) at 70 (Trial 2) and 72 weeks of age (Trial 1). The force molting procedure consisted of a reduced photoperiod (6 hr), feed removal for 12 days (Trials 1 and 2), and water withdrawal for 1 day (Trial 1 only). Cessation of egg production was achieved in 6 days. Control (CON) hens were maintained in each trial with no change in daylength, and feed and water were available ad libitum. The FM hens exhibited a significant increase in packed cell volume (PCV) from the time of feed removal until immediately prior to resumption of egg production. This effect was not associated with water deprivation. The FM hens exhibited numerically increased numbers of total leucocytes (TWBC) and monocytes throughout the nonlaying period. However, the increase was significant on Day 14 of both trials for TWBC and on Days 21 and 35 (Trial 1) and Days 14 and 48 (Trial 2) for monocytes. A significant eosinophilia was observed on Days 7 and 14 of both trials. Changes associated with lymphocytes, heterophils, and basophils were inconsistent. Lymphocytes were increased significantly in the FM hens of Trial 2 from Day 21 to Day 48, but no significant difference occurred in Trial 1. A heterophilia was exhibited by the FM hens of Trial 1 on Days 7 and 14, but not in Trial 2. Conversely, a significant basophilia was observed on Days 7 and 14 in Trial 2, but not in Trial 1. These data suggested that an increased PCV, eosinophilia, and possibly increased TWBC and monocyte numbers were associated with a forced molt in caged SCWL hens.

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