Performance and anticoccidial effects of nicarbazin-fed broilers reared at standard or reduced environmental temperatures

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Abstract

A series of 4 floor pen studies was conducted to evaluate the effects of environmental temperature modification on nicarbazin (NIC) responses in broiler chickens raised to 28 d of age. Birds were reared at either standard temperatures (recommended by the primary breeder for ages zero to 28 d) or at 3°C below this level. From placement to 28 d, birds were provided feeds containing zero, 100, or 125 ppm NIC, comprising a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement in each test. Two of the trials were conducted in the presence of an imposed coccidial challenge and 2 were conducted in healthy animals. At 18 and 28 d of age, performance was recorded; cloacal temperatures were measured at 7, 14, 21, and 26 days. Mortality data were collected daily and coccidial lesions were scored at 6 d post challenge. Results of these studies revealed that NIC improved coccidial lesion scores regardless of environmental temperature. In the absence of coccidial challenge, NIC depressed performance, but reductions in environmental temperature diminished the magnitude of these responses. Under conditions of coccidial challenge, NIC significantly improved body weight gains in both temperature environments. Compared to standard temperature conditions, lower environmental temperatures exerted a positive effect on feed conversion rates of NIC-fed broilers. Birds reared in the low temperature environment exhibited lower cloacal temperatures than standard environment groups throughout the test period. Irrespective of coccidial challenge, lower environmental temperatures significantly reduced nicarbazin mortality compared to standard temperature groups, resulting in a significant nicarbazin x temperature interaction. This finding indicates that temperature modification is a practical method for minimizing mortality over the course of 28-day nicarbazin usage.

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