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Influence of high dietary vitamin E supplementation on egg production and plasma characteristics in hens subjected to heat stress

Bollengier-Lee, S., Mitchell, M.A., Utomo, D.B., Williams, P.E.V., Whitehead, C.C.
British poultry science 1998 v.39 no.1 pp. 106-112
hens, ambient temperature, heat stress, vitamin supplements, dosage, laying performance, feed intake, blood plasma, calcium, duration, egg weight, blood lipids, zinc, feed conversion, very low density lipoprotein
1. The effects of different dietary concentrations of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol acetate) were investigated in 2 experiments on laying hens exposed to chronic heat stress at 32 degrees C. 2. In the first experiment, egg production and plasma concentrations of calcium and egg yolk precursors were measured in 24 hens before, during and after a stress period of one week and fed on diets containing 10 or 500 mg vitamin E/kg. 3. In the second, larger experiment, egg production and food intake were measured in 300 hens housed in 2 temperature-controlled rooms and fed on diets containing 10, 125 or 500 mg vitamin E/kg. Birds in room 1 were stressed from 24 to 28 weeks of age and those in room 2 from 32 to 36 weeks. 4. In experiment 1, egg production and egg weight were significantly higher (72.6 vs 51.2%, P<0.05 and 66.6 vs 63.1 g, P<0.005 respectively) during and after the period of stress in the group given 500 mg vitamin E/kg. Plasma concentrations of calcium, vitellogenin (zinc) and VLDL (triglyceride) were also higher in this group. 5. In experiment 2, egg production was significantly higher (65.4 vs 56.2%, P<0.05) during and after the period of heat stress in birds in room 1 fed on the diet containing 500 mg vitamin E/kg. Egg production was also higher (49.9% vs 44.7%) on this treatment during the stress period in room 2, though the difference was not significant (P < 0.10). Egg weight and food intake were unaffected by treatment in either room. 6. It is concluded that dietary supplementation with extra vitamin E can, at least in part, alleviate the adverse effects of chronic heat stress in laying hens, perhaps by maintaining the supply of egg precursors in plasma.