Effects of carbon dioxide on turkey poult performance and behavior

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Abstract

Appropriate ventilation of poultry facilities is critical for achieving optimum performance. Ventilation promotes good air exchange to remove harmful gases, excessive heat, moisture, and particulate matter. In a turkey brooder barn, carbon dioxide (CO2) may be present at higher levels during the winter due to reduced ventilation rates to maintain high temperatures. This higher CO2 may negatively affect turkey poult performance. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of subjecting tom turkey poults (commercial Large White Hybrid Converters) to different constant levels of atmospheric CO2 on their growth performance and behavior. In three consecutive replicate trials, a total of 552 poults were weighed post-hatch and randomly placed in 3 environmental control chambers, with 60 (Trial 1) and 62 (Trials 2 and 3) poults housed per chamber. They were reared with standard temperature and humidity levels for 3 wks. The poults were exposed to 3 different fixed CO2 concentrations of 2,000, 4,000, and 6,000 ppm throughout each trial. Following each trial (replicate), the CO2 treatments were switched and assigned to a different chamber in order to expose each treatment to each chamber. At the end of each trial, all poults were sent to a local turkey producer to finish growout. For each trial, individual body weight and group feed intake were measured, and mortality and behavioral movement were recorded. Wk 3 and cumulative body weight gain of poults housed at 2,000 ppm CO2 was greater (P < 0.05) than those exposed to 4,000 and 6,000 ppm CO2. Feed intake and feed conversion were unaffected by the different CO2 concentrations. No significant difference in poult mortality was found between treatments. In addition, no effect of CO2 treatments was evident in the incidence of spontaneous turkey cardiomyopathy for turkeys processed at 19 wk of age. Poults housed at the lower CO2 level (2,000 ppm) demonstrated reduced movement compared with those exposed to the 2 higher CO2 concentrations.

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