American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Early Age Thermal Conditioning Improves Broiler Chick's Response to Acute Heat Stress at Marketing Age

Ahmed M. Hassan and P. Gopal Reddy

DOI : 10.3844/ajavsp.2012.1.6

American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Volume 7, Issue 1

Pages 1-6


Problem statement: Acute heat stress at marketing age especially in broiler chickens raised in open houses with reduced means of heat exchange leads to economic losses. The objective of this study was to determine beneficial effects of early age thermal conditioning in reducing adverse effects of acute heat stress and decrease losses. Approach: Ninety one day-old broiler chicks were randomly assigned to one of three treatments (n = 30): (1) control (normally raised), (2) early age thermal conditioning (exposed to temperature of 40±1°C for 24 h at 5th day of age, then raised as control chicks) and (3) chronic stress (exposed to 33±2°C from day one till 6 weeks of age). At 42nd day of age, all chicks were subjected to acute heat stress of 39±2°C for 2 h. Blood samples were collected from all groups before and after exposure to acute heat stress. Results: Blood pH increased in both controls and thermally-conditioned chicks after exposure to acute heat stress coinciding with significant decrease in blood carbon dioxide pressure (pCo2) in controls only. Blood potassium level decreased in controls, while in thermally-conditioned or chronically-stressed no significant changes were observed. Blood sodium level showed a trend toward decreased levels in controls while a trend toward increased levels was observed in both thermally-conditioned and chronically-stressed birds. Importantly, significant reductions were observed in total erythrocyte count and hemoglobin level in chronically-stressed birds as compared to other groups before and after acute stress exposure. Hetrophil/lymphocyte ratio increased in both controls and thermally-conditioned chicks after acute heat exposure, but not in chronically-stressed birds. Conclusion: When exposed to acute heat stress at marketing age, chicks subjected to early age thermal conditioning responded very similar to birds adapted to chronic heat stress indicating a protective role of early age thermal conditioning.


© 2012 Ahmed M. Hassan and P. Gopal Reddy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.