Effects of LED lighting during incubation on layer and broiler hatchability, chick quality, stress susceptibility and post-hatch growth.
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Providing light during incubation has been shown to affect hatchability, but the use of LED lights has not been evaluated. This experiment evaluated the effects of LED lighting during embryogenesis on White Leghorn and commercial broiler eggs. To determine this, two experiments were conducted, the first using White Leghorn eggs (N=3456) and the second using commercial broiler eggs (N=3456) where eggs were incubated 12 h of light and 12 h of darkness (LED) or complete darkness (DARK); the light level was 250 lux. Hatchability, embryo mortality, and chick quality were measured in both studies, and a subset of one of the broiler egg trials were grown out to investigate fear and stress parameters. There was no effect (P>0.05) on hatchability of layer eggs; however, there was a difference (P=0.02) observed in chick quality, with the LED group having more chicks (75.34%) with no defects than the DARK group (56.53%). Broiler eggs exposed to LED light showed an increase in hatchability (90.12%, P=0.03) and an increase in no-defect chick percentage (86.12%, P=0.04) at hatch compared to the DARK chicks (85.76% and 69.43%, respectively). Differences were observed between treatments during the 14 d grow-out. The LED birds had lower (P<0.05) physical asymmetry (0.900.05 mm) and heterophil/lymphocyte ratios (0.2790.021), indicating that they were less susceptible to stress than the DARK birds (1.160.07 mm and 0.3470.021, respectively). There was no difference (P>0.05) observed between treatments in growth, FCR, or fear measures at 14 d. These results indicate that providing LED light during incubation can improve chick quality in both white layer and broiler eggs; however, it only appears to improve hatchability in broilers, which could be related to shell pigmentation. It was also demonstrated that providing LED light during incubation can reduce the stress susceptibility of broilers post-hatch. Utilizing light during incubation may be useful tool for the poultry industry.