Comparison of an intermittent, short-dawn/dusk photoperiod with an increasing, long-dawn/dusk photoperiod on broiler growth, stress, and welfare.
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Photoperiod has been shown to significantly affect broiler performance. However, the effects of the traditional 1-min dimming period on broiler growth and welfare are unclear. In this study, 4 consecutive trials were conducted to compare the effects of an intermittent, short-dawn/dusk photoperiod (ISD) to an increasing, long-dawn/dusk photoperiod (ILD) on broiler growth, stress, and welfare. Straight run day-of-hatch Ross 708 Ross 708 broilers were placed in 1 of 4 commercial broiler barns (2b of 26,200 birds each per treatment) and grown to 45D of age. The photoperiod in the ISD treatment consisted of 24L:0D day 0 to 6, 16L:8D day 7 to 13, 12L:4D:2L:6D day 14 to 20, 12L:4D:3L:5D day 21 to 27, 12L:4D:4L:4D day 28 to 41, and 13L:3D:5L:3D day 42 to 45, with a 1-min transition between light and dark periods. The photoperiod in the ILD treatment consisted of 23L:1D day 0 to 7, 16L:8D day 8 to 21, 18L:6D day 22 to 32, and 20L:4D day 33 to 45, with a 1-min light/dark transition period day 0 to 7 and a 30-min transition period day 8 to 45. Treatments were rotated among the barns between trials. On day 45, blood samples were collected from 20 birds/barn (n=40/treatment) to assess plasma corticosterone (CORT) and heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio. One hundred birds per barn (n=200/treatment) were weighed individually and assigned scores for hock burn, foot pad dermatitis, and feather condition on day 45. Trial differences were observed for all measures (P0.001). Birds in the ISD treatment were heavier on day 45 (P<0.001) and had lower hock burn (P=0.044) and foot pad dermatitis (P<0.001) scores. Birds in the ILD treatment had lower plasma CORT (P<0.001) and H/L ratio (P<0.001). No treatment differences were observed for feather condition (P>0.05). Overall, birds reared under the intermittent, short-dawn/dusk photoperiod had higher day 45 live body weights and lower hock burn and foot pad dermatitis scores, whereas those reared under the increasing, long-dawn/dusk photoperiod had reduced measures of short-term and long-term stress.
author list (cited authors)
Nelson, J. R., Bray, J. L., Delabbio, J., & Archer, G. S.
complete list of authors
Nelson, Jill R||Bray, Joey L||Delabbio, Juliette||Archer, Gregory S