Effects of stocking density on growth performance, feather growth, intestinal development, and serum parameters of geese

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Abstract

This experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of stocking density on the growth performance, feather growth, intestinal development, and serum parameters of geese. In total, 336 healthy, 28-day-old, male Yangzhou goslings were randomly allotted to 30 plastic wire-floor pens according to 5 stocking densities (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 birds/m2). The results showed that with the stocking density increased from 2 birds/m2 to 6 birds/m2, the body weights of geese at 42 d (P < 0.001) and 70 d (P < 0.001) were reduced by 10.53% and 10.43% respectively, the primary feather lengths of geese at 42 d (P < 0.001) and 70 d (P = 0.021) were reduced by 20.38% and 6.62% respectively, whereas the feed/gain ratios for 28- to 42-d period and 28- to 70-d period increased from 2.50 to 2.90 (P = 0.001), and 3.80 to 4.24 (P < 0.001), respectively. The relative weights of the jejunum, ileum, and small intestine and the lengths of the jejunum, ileum, and small intestine were all adversely affected (P < 0.05) when stocking density was increased to 6 birds/m2. Serum concentrations of alkaline phosphatase (P = 0.013) and triiodothyronine (P < 0.001) decreased as the stocking density increased. The serum thyroxine concentration of geese from the 6 birds/m2 group was lower than that of geese from the other groups (P < 0.05). The reduction in thyroid hormone concentrations was similar to what was observed in growth rate. All the results suggested that high stocking density will adversely influence thyroid function and the developments of the body weight, body size, feathers, and small intestine. Under our experimental conditions, we recommend that the stocking density of geese should be kept to 5 or fewer birds/m2 to avoid the negative effects of high stocking density on geese.

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