Effect ofin ovoinjection of corticotropin-releasing hormone on the timing of hatching in broiler chickens

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Abstract

In chicken embryos, intravenous injection of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) causes the release of both corticosteroids and thyroid hormones. These hormones initiate and enhance the hatching process, raising the possibility that CRH treatment of the late chicken embryo could accelerate hatching and/or decrease the spread of hatching. We performed a series of exploratory tests to investigate whether in ovo delivery methods of CRH other than intravenous injection that are more practical in a commercial setting, affect hatching time in broilers. Corticotropin-releasing hormone was injected into the air cell, albumen, or amniotic fluid of broiler breeder eggs, in the last week of embryonic development. Average incubation duration was significantly decreased by 22 h when 2 μg of CRH was injected into the air cell on embryonic day 18 (E18) of Cobb eggs. Acceleration of hatching (but only by 8 h) was also seen for Ross chicks when CRH was injected daily into the albumen between E10 and E18. However, repeats of both experiments did not show consistent effects of CRH on hatching time; in most experiments performed, CRH did not affect hatching time. We speculate that the effectiveness of CRH uptake via these delivery methods and/or the duration and magnitude of the thyroxine and corticosterone response to CRH is not sufficient to have a substantial effect on hatching time. We therefore conclude that in ovo CRH treatment does not seem a feasible option as a practical tool to increase hatchery productivity or to investigate the effects of CRH agonists and antagonists on hatching.

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