Dynamics of nutrient utilization, heat production, and body composition in broiler breeder hens during egg production

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Changes in heat production (HP) and body composition (BC) in modern broiler breeders can provide means to understand nutrient utilization. Twelve Cobb 500 breeders were evaluated 10 times from 26 to 59 wk of age. The same wired caged breeders were moved to respiratory chambers connected to an indirect calorimetry to obtain oxygen consumption (VO2) and carbon dioxide production (VCO2), HP, and respiratory exchange ratio (RER). The same hens were evaluated for BC using a dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Data were analyzed during light (16 h) and dark (8 h) period using a mixed model to evaluate calorimetry parameters, a factorial design 2 × 10 for normalized calorimetry parameters, and Complete Randomized Design (CRD)—one way ANOVA for BC. Means were separated by Tukey-Honest Significant difference (HSD). HP increased with age (d) in 0.152 kcal/d, VO2 and VCO2 were 0.031 and 0.024 L/d per each increase in age (d), respectively. In the light period, hens consumed +17.4 L/d VO2 and produced +18.9 L/d VCO2 (P < 0.01). HP during the dark period was 84 kcal/kg0.75 and during the light period was 115 kcal/kg0.75. RER decreased with age until 43 wk and remained the same until 59 wk suggesting more fat and/or protein being oxidized at later periods of production. Lean body mass ranged from 642 to 783 g/kg during the whole study reaching the lowest at 37 and 50 wk and the highest at 26 to 33 wk (P < 0.01). Body fat ranged from 168 to 261 g/kg with the lowest at 26 to 33 wk and the highest at 50 wk of age (P < 0.01). Broiler breeder females may be catabolizing fat energy reserves from 50 wk onwards when the egg production is reduced, and HP increased at 54 and 59 wk (P < 0.01) due to higher energy required for maintenance of a higher lean mass structure. Broiler breeders change nutrient fuel use during egg production. Indirect calorimetry and DEXA can be used to pursue further feed strategies to maximize egg production and maintain a healthy breeder.

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