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Effect of early feed restriction on physiological responses, performance and ascites incidence in broiler chickens raised in normal or cold environment

  • R. Mohammadalipour (a1), H. R. Rahmani (a1), R. Jahanian (a1), A. Riasi (a1), M. Mohammadalipour (a1) and N. Nili (a1)...


Intensive selection of broilers for faster growth and better feed efficiency resulted in greater susceptibility to metabolic disorders such as ascites syndrome, which is one of the major causes of mortality and economic loss in broiler industry. Whereas cool temperature is one of the primary triggers for ascites, early feed restriction (FDR) significantly alleviates its incidence and mortality. However, little is known about effects of FDR, cold environmental temperature and their interaction on physiological responses in broiler chickens. For this purpose, 320 one-day-old male broilers were divided into two treatment groups of Ad libitum (Ad) and feed restricted (FR) with eight pen replicates each. Chickens in FR group underwent feed access limitation from days 7 to 14 of age. On day 21 half of the birds (four pens) in each group exposed to the cold temperature (CT) and the other half (four pens) continued at normal temperature (NT). Average daily feed intake, average daily weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were measured at days 7, 14, 21, 28 and 42. At 39 and 46 days of age two chicks with a BW around the pen average were selected from each pen and slaughtered after collecting blood samples. Then, relative weight of internal organs and right ventricle weight per total ventricle weight (RV : TV) ratio were calculated. Compared with NT group, CT birds had higher daily feed intake and FCR (P<0.05) from day 28 to 42. Cumulative ascites mortality in CT chickens was higher (P<0.001) than NT chicks. Within the CT group, ascites mortality in FR chickens was reduced (P<0.001) to 1.25% compared with 8.75% in Ad chicks. Birds in CT group had significantly (P<0.05) thicker right ventricle and greater relative weight of heart, hematocrit and triiodothyronine concentration. However, none of these parameters were affected by FDR. Under cold stress conditions, FDR reduced activity of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase (P<0.05). Serum triglyceride, cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein and total protein were not influenced by either temperature or feeding regimen. In conclusion, these findings suggest that FDR reduces ascites incidence mainly by allowing better development of internal organs, which helps them to cope with the high metabolic pressure and suffer less damage.


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