Main content area

Spread of hatch and delayed feed access affect post hatch performance of female broiler chicks up to day 5

Wang, Y., Li, Y., Willems, E., Willemsen, H., Franssens, L., Koppenol, A., Guo, X., Tona, K., Decuypere, E., Buyse, J., Everaert, N.
Animal 2014 v.8 no.4 pp. 610-617
adverse effects, appetite, breast muscle, broiler chickens, chicks, farms, feed deprivation, feed intake, females, glycogen, hatching, liver, refeeding
It is not rare that newly hatched chicks remain without feed for about 24 to 48 h before they are placed on farms due to a series of logistic operations. Furthermore, the spread in hatching time can also mount up to 30 to 48 h for late v. early hatchers. In other words, the practice is a complex combination of spread of hatch and delayed feed access. The present study was aimed to investigate the combined effects of hatching time with a delay in feed access of 48 h, starting from their hatch-time (biological age). When chicks had access to feed immediately after hatch, late hatchers had a higher feed intake and relative growth rate up to day 5 compared with their early hatched counterparts. Feed deprivation during the first 48 h resulted in retarded early growth rate, which was further aggravated by an impaired feed intake after refeeding. In addition, the differential effects of hatching time on relative growth rate and feed intake observed in immediately fed chicks were eliminated by the 48 h feed delay. The yolk utilization after hatch was faster for the late hatchers up to biological day 2 regardless of the feeding treatments. Hatching muscle glycogen content was higher in the late hatchers compared with that of their early counterparts at hatch and at biological day 2 independent of feeding treatment. Moreover, the liver glycogen content of the late hatchers was also higher at hatch. For the immediately fed chicks, the proportional breast muscle weight of the late hatchers was higher at biological day 2 and 5. For the starved chicks, on the other hand, this effect was only observed after they had access to feed (biological day 5). The different plasma T₃ levels at hatch may have contributed to the different post hatch performance. It is concluded that the spread of hatch influenced post hatch performance, especially appetite and growth at least until day 5. Moreover, the delay in feed access interacted with the hatching time and caused adverse effects on the post hatch performance.