Recovery from adverse effects of heat stress on slow-growing chicks in the tropics 1: Effect of ascorbic acid and different levels of betaine

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Three hundreds, 21 d-old slow-growing chicks were randomly divided among 5 treatments, of 5 replicates each. Each replicate contained 12 unsexed chicks housed in (1 × 1) a floor pen. A group was kept under thermoneutral condition at 28 ± 4°C and RH was 55 ± 3% during 21-84 d of age (positive control) and fed corn-soybean meal diet. The other four groups were kept for three successive days per week under heat stress (HS) at 38 ± 1.4°C and 49 ± 2% RH from 12.00 to 16.00 pm. Chicks in HS treatments were fed corn-soybean meal diet without (negative control) or with 250 mg AA/kg diet and Bet at 0.5 and 1 g/kg diet. HS decreased productive performance, increased (P < 0.05) meat dry matter, plasma triglyceride and serum calcium whereas decreased (P > 0.05) plasma glucose, serum total protein and water holding capacity (WHC) of meat. AA and 1 g of Bet/kg diet was equally potent for partial relief (P < 0.05) of the negative effect of HS on growth, increased (P < 0.05) feed intake, protein digestibility (P < 0.05), dressing out percentage, liver and giblets, whilst improved (P < 0.05) feed conversion ratio (FCR). Also, a complete recovery from the negative effect (P < 0.05) of HS shown on plasma glucose and partial recovery (P < 0.05) observed in total protein, triglyceride, blood pH, packed cell volume (PCV), hemoglobin (Hgb), rectal temperature (RT) and respiration rate (RR) and improved humoral immune competence to sheep red blood cell (SBRCs) test.

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