Eggshell temperature manipulations during incubation and in ovo injection of thyroxine are associated with a decreased incidence of cold-induced ascites in broiler chickens

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Abstract

A hypothesis was tested that eggshell temperature manipulations during incubation and in ovo injection of thyroxine (T4) would help their progeny chicks to better survive the ascites-inducing condition during the growing period. In experiment 1, a total of 4,800 hatching eggs was randomly arranged in a 2 × 4 factorial design (8 replicates of 75 eggs per treatment), in which the eggs were incubated at a constant eggshell temperature (EST) of 37.8°C throughout the incubation period (CON) or were exposed to 15°C for one h on d 11, 13, 15, and 17 of incubation (EST manipulations; ESTM), and 4 treatment groups of 3 control groups (no injection; INJN, needle pricked; INJP, and sterilized distilled water injection; INJW) and one T4 treatment group (injected with sterilized distilled water containing 65 ng of T4; INJT4). In experiment 2, 240 one-day-old male broiler chicks from 2 temperature conditions and injection (INJN and INJT4) treatment groups were reared for 42 d in a completely randomized design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. To induce ascites, all chicks were exposed to a 15°C room temperature from 14 d onwards. Results from experiment 1 showed that second-grade chicks and yolk sac weight were decreased, and body weight at hatch was increased in the ESTM and INJT4 groups. Also, final body weight was increased in the ESTM group. Ascites mortality rate was decreased in the ESTM and INJT4 groups. In the ESTM and INJT4 groups, the red blood cell (RBC) and the packed cell volume (PCV) count were decreased. In conclusion, the results showed that the ESTM and INJT4 treatments during incubation were associated with improved chick quality, productive performance of broilers, and a decreased incidence of cold-induced ascites in broiler chickens.

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