The effects of light stimulation during incubation on indicators of stress susceptibility in broilers.
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Providing light during incubation has been shown to decrease bilateral physical asymmetry of broilers posthatch, which may indicate that early light stimulation reduces later stress susceptibility. This experiment evaluated the effects of lighting during embryogenesis on other measures of stress responsiveness in broilers. Cobb 500 eggs (n = 1,404) were incubated under 0L:24D, 1L:23D, 6L:18D, or 12L:12D; the light level was 550 lx. The broilers were then raised in floor pens under a 12L:12D lighting regimen, and various stress parameters were measured during wk 3 to 6 of age. There was an effect of incubation lighting regimen on posthatch stress responses. Following 1 h of crating, the change in corticosterone (CORT) concentration was less in the 12L:12D (-0.06 ng/mL, P < 0.05) treatment than all other treatments (pooled mean = 0.24 ng/mL); however, there were no treatment differences in CORT response to adrenocorticotropic hormone administration (pooled mean pre- vs. 1 h postadministration= 17.5 ng/mL, P > 0.05). Anti-keyhole limpet hemocyanin titers were higher in the 12L:12D birds (92,395 units/mL; P < 0.05) than all other treatments (pooled mean = 68,407 units/mL) on d 1 postcrating. Additionally, composite asymmetry scores were lower in the 12L:12D treatment (0.92 mm) than all other treatments (pooled mean = 1.14 mm, P < 0.05). These results demonstrate that providing 12 h of light per day during incubation can reduce the stress susceptibility of broilers posthatch.