Metabolic heat production and evaporation of poultry
Accurate measurements of gas exchange between an animal and its environment is critical in determining metabolic heat production and respiratory functions of broilers. Information on non-invasive methods to measure gas exchange of broiler chicks and chickens under uncontrolled environmental conditions is lacking in the literature. The aims of this study were: (1) to develop an indirect calorimetric system including a hood that allows gas exchange for chickens, (2) to measure gas exchange and respiratory functions (respiration rate, ventilation rate, and tidal volume) of broiler chickens weighing greater than 250 g, and (3) to calculate heat production and respiratory evaporation of the birds based on measured gas and vapor exchanges. We conducted two trials. The first trial involved 6 broiler chicks evaluated for 6 days in 6 different schedules (6 × 6 Latin square). The chicks were kept inside a heat exchanger with a continuous air flow of 150 mL min−1. The second trial involved 12 birds evaluated for 12 days in 12 different schedules (12 × 12 Latin square). Metabolic heat production and evaporation were influenced by live weight of chicks, varying between evaluation days (P < 0.05). The respiratory functions (tidal volume, ventilation rate, and respiratory rate) varied between days, and were strongly influenced by live weight of the broilers (P < 0.05).